President Says He May Call Early Elections
PARIS (AP) _ Socialist President Francois Mitterrand was quoted today as saying he may call for early elections to challenge the conservative majority now in parliament, but gave no indication when that might take place.
″I can dissolve the National Assembly, organize presidential elections or a referendum,″ the French head of state was quoted as saying in today’s editions of the International Herald Tribune. ″I can call elections tomorrow, but I have no mania about elections.″
There have been two national elections since Mitterrand won the presidency in 1981. His seven-year term ends in 1988.
″It could happen a third time,″ he was quoted as saying in reference to new elections. ″The first time it gave me a majority. The second time it took it away.″
In parliamentary elections in March, Mitterrand’s Socialist Party lost its majority in the National Assembly to center-right forces led by Prime Minister Jacques Chirac.
Mitterrand was quoted as saying he had to respect the new majority, but ″that does not prevent me from making known my views on major questions involving the general interest at home as well as abroad - without skirmishing, which would not serve anyone’s purpose.″
There have been growing strains between Mitterrand and Chirac over such domestic issues as privatization of state-owned enterprises and foreign questions such as whether France should take part in the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as ″Star Wars.″
Chirac advocates joining the research program to develop space-based missile defenses, and last week told reporters that France should not be left out of the ″inevitable, irreversible and justified movement represented by SDI.″
However, Mitterrand is opposed to Washington’s efforts to enlist French backing for the program.
On Tuesday, the president told students at a military academy in Coetquidan in Britanny that France ″will not allow itself to be drawn into a conflict that it will not have clearly accepted.″
The government has not prohibited French companies from taking part in Star Wars research, but Mitterrand has refused to sign any official agreement on the subject.
On foreign issues, the International Herald Tribune quoted Mitterrand as saying the United States overlooked that France was a ″sovereign state″ during the April 15 bombing raid on Libya.
France refused to allow British-based U.S. Air Force F-111 aircraft to overfly French territory on their way to Libya, forcing them to fly a roundabout route that also avoided Portuguese and Spanish airspace.
Mitterrand was quoted as saying ″We are a loyal and strong supporters of the (Atlantic) alliance,″ but adding that France also was a Mediterranean power with interests in the Arab world which ″are not necessarily identical with those of the United States.″