French President de Gaulle resigned from office tonight (Sunday) after voters rejected his proposals for senate and regional reforms in a critical national referendum.
PARIS POLLING STATION; BIDAULT VOTING; ROCHET VOTING; COUVE DE MURVILLE VOTING; POHER VOTING; POMPIDOU VOTING; BALLOT BOXES BEING OPENED; VOTES COUNTED; BALLOT READING "NON".
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: French President de Gaulle resigned from office tonight (Sunday) after voters rejected his proposals for senate and regional reforms in a critical national referendum. Among the voters were political leaders representing many phases of the political spectrum.
Former French Prime Minister Georges Bidault, recently returned to France from exile, cast his vote in Paris. M. Bidault was also a former minister under President de Gaulle, but the two men split over the Algerian crisis of 1962.
French Communist Party Secretary-General M. Waldeck Rochet, who was among today's voters, later said that the result of the referendum was evidence of the French people's profound desire of democratic change. He cast his ballot in Nanterre.
M. Alain Pober voted at a polling station near Orly Airport. M. Pober is President of the Senate and under the terms of the Constitution will become interim President with General de Gaulle's resignation. He will remain in the post until a general election is held in September.
Prime Minister Maurice Couve de Murville also voted today. Later tonight he made a statement conceding defeat. He said that "The French people, in its majority, came out against the reforms proposed to them with all the political consequences which this refusal entails."
Another voter was former Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, who voted at his residence in Orvilliers, about 43 miles (70 kms) west of Paris. The former Prime Minister is expected to be a favourite candidate in the coming Presidential contest.
The votes, which election officials have been counting through much of the day, show that the proposals on which General de Gaulle had staked his career, had been rejected by 52.87 per cent of the electorate.