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June 11, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-06-11

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Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Tuesday, June 11, 1974
News Phone: 764-0552

The French non mandate

BV P2O(Wo Ail (~AV26U

(N SUNDAY, MAY 19, the day of the historic
runoff between presidential candidates Valery
Giscard D'Estaing (Independent Republican) and
Socialist Francois Mitterand, suspense was acute
eserysThere in France. Observers in all parts
Of Europe and in many parts of the world paid
close attention to the electoral battle, remaining
awake until well after midnight on election night
to listen to agonizingtt close vote counts. Despite
criticisms by many members of the extreme
left of the "electoral farce", voter participation
was massive: over 87 per cent of all registered
French voters cast their ballots for the man
they chose as Pompidou's successor.
Even those who were totaly uninterested in
what some commentators called "the most dra-
matic election in the history of the French re-
public" could hardly avoid reading about it. The
newspapers which appeared on European streets
on the two days following the election proclaim-.
ed the French Finance Minister's victory with
photos and eye-catching headlines: GISCARD,
ALMOST MORE interesting than the name of
the winner were the final figures: 50.80 per cent
in favor of Giscard and 49.19 per cent for Mit-
terand, in other words the closest presidential
race on record in France. Results were seen by
many as a triumph of the forces of continuity
and tradition over the forces of change, others
saw it as a successful usage of commercial poli-
tical tactics that the United States is famous for.
My intention in writing this article is not to
discuss in depth the causes and effects of Gis-
card's victory, nor the further deterioration of
the Gaullist movement (in power for fifteen years
before this election), but rather to compare the
two candidates themselves, as well as their re-
spective electorates.
Such comparisons are facilitated by the numer-
ous opinion surveys that were made public pre-
vious to the elections, and which showed French
electorate to be clearly divided according to age,
sex, and social standing. Based on these surveys,
the following conclusions can be drawn about
the election:
1) If only men had voted, Mitterand almost
certainly would have won.
2) If only workers, or even employees of
any kind, had voted, Mitterrand would have
been victorious.
3) If young peoplebetween the ages of 18
and 21 years of age had been allowed to vote,
Mitterand would have been much closer to vic-
When Giscard nosed out Mitterand by approxi-
mately 400,000 votes, many concluded that Gis-
card's election was a victory for women, the old,
and the upper classes.
FEAR OF COMMUNISM was another decisive
factor in the outcome of the election. What
makes Mitterand "scarier" than Britain's Wil-
son is that Mitterand is supported by a coalition
of Socialists, Communists, and Radicals, and

that the Communists represent about 25 per ce:
of French voters. Certain members of the ele
torate were frightened into believing that satin
for a Socialist-Communist coalition would be
step towards surrendering La Belle France int
the greedy hands of the Soviet Union. 1pet
sonttlly do not believe intimations made by man
newspapers that a victory of the 'Union of tol
Left" would have been a victory for the Rn
sians. I doubt that Mitterand or the Frenc
Communist Party are the kinds of socialis
that Moscow likes to see in power. There 's muc
evidence to support the statement that the Sosie
preferred Giscard over Mitterand.
THE TWO candidates reflect their resen
constituencies even by their Socio-economic ha
ground. Mitterand is the son of a railriid en
ployee, and he made his way up the poli'ti,
ladder after participating in the French Resi
ance in both military and non-combat role It
political platform was based on the "Cornnt
Program of the Left," a document signed by va
ions leftist organizations, containing plans for n
tionalization and other social and economic toe,
sures. Although the document has nsumeros
faults, notably a certain ambiguity cancerni
foreign policy, it presented a much more cocre:
plan than anything Giscard proposed.
Giscard, in contrast to Mitterand's retlie
humble origins, is a descendent of French K:r
Louis XV. The former Finance Minister's politic
tactics included trying to appear as a "middlei
the road-centrist" candidate, when he could b
ter be described as "the representative off ta
tionally pro-American middle and upper midd
-NIXON WAS the first chief of stnve to co
gratilate Giscard upon being elected; he did
before the results of the election were officji
which is not part of White House protocol. Ti
was interpreted by many as a clear des '
the part of Nixon to improve Franco- Aurir
relations: indeed, Giscard will certainly pro:
be more pro-American than either of his G
list predecessors were. His platform wsi mi
less concrete than that of his Socialist ri
victory is certainly more a result of
peal," commercialization, and fear of th. i:
ruies," than of public support for his tt
governing France.
Whatever be the reasons behind Giscard's ,le
toral success, the results show that the re. pce
dent will have to face the opposition of
mately half the French population, naimiCei
majority of the young, the students and tihc
ing class. Hostile reactions to Giscard's eli::
are expected from the students and the lab
unions, but nothing big is expected entil ie
fall: organizing strikes and demonstratiitis i:
mass level is almost impossible duringe c
mer vacation months.
MEANWHILE, Giscard must attend to the :o
of building a government from the ri :iiiof :
Gaullist party and from the diverse righ-ci
and center elements that brought him into po t
These elements are anything but cohesive a
homogeneous, so this task will hardly proe
be an easy one.

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Letters to the Daily

To The Daily:
ON JUNE 15, 16 and 17 in
Iowa City, Iowa, the Attica Bri-
gade will hold its first National
Convention. It's been five long
years (the SDS convention in
1969) since students from all
over the country got together
as one organization to figure
out how we could best fight
back against the oppression of
people at home and around the
But the student movement
didn't die with SIBS like the
press is always telling us. Al-
though many students did be-
come cynical and some got mis-
led into working through elec-
toral politics on the McGovern
campaign, during the late '60s
and early '70s something else
happened to many of us. Be-
cause of the war, the Black
liberation struggle (especially
the Black Panther Party), and
through what we saw on our
own campuses and high schools,
many came to an understanding
that it was more than just flaws
or errors in America, but a
whole system of oppression and
exploitation. And we called it
what it was - Imperialism.

NOW IS THE TIME for all of
us to get together - members
of the Attica Brigade, indepen-
dent anti-imperialist student
groups, independent progressive
students. We have to talk about
the struggles we've built and
what the issues are to build
around in the future. We have to
talk about our victories and also
sum up our mistakes. It will be
a time to figure out what prin-
ciples unite us and also to strug-
gle out our differences.
There will be speakers from
the Youth organization for
Black Unity, a Farah striker,
an Attica Brother, the Revolu-
tionary Union, Zimbabwe Af-
rican National Union, Vietnam
Veterans Against the War.
Winter Soldier Org. and Clark
Kissinger, former National Sec-
retary of SDS 1964-65. Educa-
tional workshops will be held
on such various subjects as
Fascism, Chile, Ireland, and
African Liberation. Practical
workshops will range from
topics such as Women, Fight-
ing National Oppression (Ra-
cism), Militancy, Cultural Work,
and Electoral Politics. There
will also be representatives in-

vited from other forces:
are fighting back against I
perialism - Vets, xirke
'third World organizations. ci
munist organizations -'so
can learn how to best jois
struggles with theirs.
FIVE YEARS is too lng
have got to move now to huil
new student movement --u
unified, more conscious, m
militant. We can not let
other year go by with all of
all over the place, someti
working on the same thin
sometimes on struggles
should be linked, but a
getting together: never re
concentrating all the power
have. We hope to come out
the Convention with a State
of Unity, an Organizati
structure and an increased
litical understanding of
best to move forward our
and of what tasks face the
tire anti-imperialist move0
For more information an
rides call Mark 763 F6
Marianne 665 0825.
-The Attica Brig

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