A French Big Bang

Rocard calls for a new political constellation to replace the Socialists

RARELY HAS A CAMPAIGN SPEECH SET OFF SUCH A powerful detonation. Addressing a Socialist rally in Montlouis-sur-Loire in mid-February, ex-Prime Minister Michel Rocard called for a "political big bang" that would replace France's outmoded right-left political structures with a broad coalition of "progressive" forces, ranging from reform-minded communists and Socialists to ecologists, centrists and human-rights activists. Rocard was pronouncing the death of President Francois Mitterrand's scandal-tarnished Socialist Party, which faces almost sure defeat in this month's parliamentary elections, and laying the groundwork for his own 1995 presidential bid. Mitterrand, of course, has dismissed the idea. But other Socialists and independents are...

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