France History – The Presidential Elections of December 1965

In September 1963, considering the presidential elections closer than they actually would have been, behind the screen of a “Monsieur X” whose name was still unknown, the launch of the candidacy of the socialist mayor of Marseille G. Defferre. To support it were first of all, with a group of journalists (including J.-J. Servan Schreiber of the Express), the animators of the clubs (in particular the Jean Moulin, the Cercle Tocqueville of Lyon, Démocratie nouvelle of Marseille, Citoyens ’60), who signed a manifesto in December hoping that the elections would be resolved on an occasion for political renewal. At first the operation (which was therefore born out of traditional circles and party apparatuses) seemed to be successful. With respect to the Communists, Defferre started from the assumption that, not being able to dispose of their own candidacy with hopes of victory, they would inevitably end up supporting him against the Gaullists. Excluding any negotiation with them, obtained in February 1964 (to tell the truth not without some difficulty) the official investiture by the SFIO, Deffere tried to give life to a wider array in which also the centrists of the MRP (presided over now by J. Lecanuet). In April the Convention of Republican Institutions – which included, with the representatives of the clubs of the left, radical and socialist personalities – he proposed the constitution of a federation which in fact in the following months Defferre tried to create. But neither Mollet, secretary of the SFIO, nor Fontanet, secretary of the MRP, welcomed a project to overcome the parties. In June Defferre therefore had to withdraw his candidacy.

Within the left, it was then Mitterrand who put forward his candidacy in September, while at the same time constituting a Fédération de la gauche démocratique et socialiste closed in the center. Unlike Defferre, Mitterrand was able to obtain Communist support, while for the Center – when the possibility of a Pinay candidacy no longer existed – Lecanuet was in contention: and it will be precisely his presence, with the votes thus stolen from de Gaulle, to to force the French president (who had announced his candidacy in November) to the unexpected shame of the ballot, after an electoral campaign in which the candidates’ use of the television tool was particularly prominent.

In the metropolitan area, the results of the poll of December 5 gave 43.71% of the votes cast to de Gaulle, 32.23% to Mitterrand, 15.85% to Lecanuet, 5.27% to Tixier-Vignancour (far-right candidate). The ballot took place on December 19 and gave 54.50% of the votes to de Gaulle, against 45.49% in Mitterrand.

Reconfirmed president of the Republic, de Gaulle developed the foreign policy guidelines already known, among other things by deciding in March 1966 the exit of the company from NATO; going to the USSR in June and accentuating the significance of the ties with Moscow (which did not exclude the development of parallel relations with the other Eastern capitals); making a long journey around the world in the following August-September during which, in the stop in Cambodia, he publicly spoke out for the withdrawal of the Americans from Vietnam; condemning Israel’s action on the occasion of the “six-day” war, finally indulging in declarations in favor of the French speakers of Québec during the trip to Canada in July of that same year. On the domestic front, in view of the legislative elections, Comité d’action pour la V République which also included the independent republicans: not without, however, that their leader Giscard d’Estaing, who was no longer part of the government, repeatedly marked their distance. On the left, Mitterrand strove for his part to consolidate the Fédération de la gauche démocratique et socialiste, deepening programmatic issues, establishing a shadow government on the British model in May 1966, reaching an agreement with the Communists for the benefit of the respective best-placed candidate after the first ballot.

According to SOFTWARELEVERAGE, the elections of March 1967 saw a positive result for the Gaullists in the first ballot (37.8% of the votes), which, however, was not repeated in the second. The electoral agreement of the left gave good results. The Communists, who in the first round had reached 22.5% of the votes, obtained 72 seats (+31), the Fédération di Mitterrand and the PSU 120 (+ 31), while the government majority reached with difficulty (thanks to the votes of Overseas and at the confluence of a few blocks) the 245 seats, of which 43 went to the giscardians.

France History - The Presidential Elections of December 1965

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