France: Non, Mon General!

Local elections in France are usually just that: fought and decided on local issues and parochial personalities. But for this year's round of élections municipales, Charles de Gaulle decided to think grand. Ordered onto the hustings were no fewer than 16 of his Cabinet officers, including Premier Georges Pompidou, a onetime banker and literary critic who had never run for anything in his life. Everywhere the invading Gaullist commandos were given lavish support by the regional stations of the government-controlled radio and television.

De Gaulle's aim was to seize control of as many local governments as possible for his U.N.R. party,...

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