• Short Summary

    The French Prime Minister Raymond Barre on Friday (31 March) handed in his government's resignation to President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

  • Description

    TV & SV Georges Marchais, Communist leader arrives and walks into Elysee Palace (2 shots)

    GV EXT Palace with newsmen

    SV Georges Marchais leaving and making statement to newsman (2 shots)

    TV M. Marchais leaving in car as newsmen watch (2 shots)

    SV Robert Fabre, President of the Radical Left Party leaving palace and making statement to newsmen

    SV Prime Minister Raymond Barre arrives at palace

    SV Newsmen outside palace

    SV Prime Minister Raymond Barre leaves without speaking to newsmen

    President Giscard d'Estaing has said he wishes to promote a more relaxed working relationship between the government and opposition such as exists in West Germany, Britain and the United States. As a first step he favours giving the opposition a bigger role in parliament, but has run into tough opposition from the Gaullists, still the biggest party in parliament. Earlier this week, Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac warned him against going too far in his search for a new mood of rapport between government and opposition. First indications of his attempt to involve the opposition more in the running of the country will come on Monday (3 April) when the new national assembly begins its first session.

    Initials BB/1815

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The French Prime Minister Raymond Barre on Friday (31 March) handed in his government's resignation to President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. But M. Barre is expected to be re-appointed as premier at a later meeting with the President when political observers believed he will be asked to form a new government. His resignation was a formality, following the victory of the centre-right coalition parties in the general election earlier this month.

    SYNOPSIS: M. Barre's resignation came after a week of discussions between President Giscard d'Estaing and leaders of opposition political parties. A coalition of Gaullists, Centrists and Republicans is expected to form the backbone of the new administration, and the President has said he wants to promote a more relaxed working relationship between the Government and opposition.

    Earlier in the week, the President had a meeting with Socialist leader Francois Mitterrand. On Thursday (30 March), the Communist Party leader M. Georges Marchais visited the Elysee Palace for talks. Afterwards, he emerged to read a seven page statement prepared before the meeting, to gathered newsmen.

    M. Marchais reaffirmed his intention of staying firmly on the opposition side. He said that the problems facing the French nation could only be resolved by reforms and changes of the most fundamental nature in society, by the implementation of a programme as radical as that of the Communist party. M. Marchais also used the meeting to press claims for a 37 per cent rise in the minimum wage of French workers.

    Completing the President's round of talks with opposition leaders, the President of the Radical Left Party, M. Robert Fabre, later visited the Elysee Palace.

    After the meeting M. Fabre spoke to newsmen. He said that during the talks, he had repeated propositions put to him originally nearly three years ago. Among the package proposals which he put to the President were suggestions for improving the status of the opposition, including a suggestion that opposition members of parliament be given right of access to television and radio to reply to ministerial broadcasts.

    M. Fabre said that, at the time he originally suggested it, the President had indicated interest, but nothing had come of the suggestions. These rounds of talks have attracted considerable attention in France, party because M. Marchais' visit to the Elysee Palace was the first by a Communist leader since the Fifth Republic was founded by General Charles de Gaulle in 1958. But the talks also attracted attention as the foremost indication of the President's stated wish to create a new understanding between the French left and right.

    The last visitor of the day to the Palace was M. Raymond Barre. He did not stop to talk to newsmen on arrival or departure. It is widely believed that following his resignation, M. Barre will be asked to head a new government, probably one with considerable changes in the cabinet, including some left-of-centre personalities who would be sympathetic to some of the opposition's proposals for social reform.

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