FRENCH ELECTIONS: AGAINST THE ODDS
JUNE 2, 1997
After 4 years in the political wilderness, the left wing of French politics came to a surprizing, decisive victory on Sunday with the election of a socialist prime minister. A background report is followed by a panel of experts who analyze the results.
JIM LEHRER: The French elections have brought a change in government and maybe much more. Conservative President Jacques Chirac will now share power with a socialist prime minister. We start with a report from Bill Neely of Independent Television News.
A RealAudio version of of this segment is available.
June 2, 1997:
A panel of experts analyze Sunday's socialist victory in the French elections.
January 8, 1996:
The NewsHour remembers the life and work of French President Francois Mitterrand.
December 8, 1995:
French public employees strike in opposition to government policy.
Browse The NewsHour's European coverage.
Information on the structure and composition of the French Government (In English).
French Television's coverage of the election (In French).
BILL NEELY, ITN: Sweeping into the president's palace, the man who has swept to power in France. Lionel Jospin is the new prime minster but not the one President Chirac wanted. He has been humiliated. The celebrations are intense. This is a victory against all the odds. Even prospective cabinet ministers were stunned.
BERNARD KOUCHNER, Former Socialist Minister: It was so impossible to think about one month ago.
BILL NEELY: The moment of victory after four years in the political wilderness. It is the size of the left wind that has shot France, the Socialists, the biggest party, the Communists doubling their vote and holding the balance of power. The new prime minister arrived in the capital overnight to herald a new dawn, but he is taking office amid gloom and record unemployment. And Mr. Jospin is promising a tougher stand on Europe and a rougher ride for the European single currency.
PIERRE HASKY, Political Analyst: The single currency will still be on course but maybe on a different course and in a different atmosphere. I think the idea that you're going to impose a single currency with very stringent methods is probably dead.
BILL NEELY: Here in France's House of Commons the Conservatives used to hold four out of five seats. Now they've been swept away. The left has a big enough majority here to govern for the next five years. The name plates of Conservative MP's are being removed; their president didn't appear today. He is beaten and humiliated.