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Chirac Accepts Premier's Post in Split Government

March 20, 1986|Associated Press

PARIS — Socialist President Francois Mitterrand's government today announced that conservative leader Jacques Chirac has accepted the post of premier, marking the first time in the 28-year history of the Fifth Republic that the president and premier have been from opposing parties.

Chirac's appointment was announced by Mitterrand's chief of staff, Jean-Louis Bianco, from the steps of the Elysee Palace shortly after Chirac concluded a private meeting with the president.

Bianco first announced the formal resignation of the Socialist Cabinet headed by Laurent Fabius. Although the latest Cabinet had governed only 20 months, the Socialists controlled the government since gaining a parliamentary majority in 1981 elections.

They lost that majority in Sunday's elections to a conservative-centrist coalition.

Seeks to Rule by Decree

Chirac, the 53-year-old mayor of Paris, said today he plans to ask the National Assembly to give the government the right to rule by decree, enabling it to take immediate action on a series of economic and social issues, including denationalization of industries.

He said such steps would aid France's economic recovery and stimulate employment.

Chirac also said he would seek a return to elections based on a simple majority vote. Under Mitterrand, France switched to a system of proportional representation, which the conservatives said greatly reduced the size of the parliamentary majority they won Sunday.

Key members of the new Cabinet, Bianco said, will be Eduard Balladur, 57, a close aide to Chirac, as minister of economy, finances and privatization; Jean-Bernard Raimond, ambassador in Moscow since January, 1985, as foreign minister; and Andre Giraud, 60, a former industry minister under President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, as defense minister.

Chirac returns to the premiership 10 years after resigning the post because of conflicts over power and policy with Giscard d'Estaing, a centrist.

Mitterrand had asked Chirac on Tuesday to form a new government, but Chirac withheld his answer until today while he negotiated with his political allies about the makeup of the new Cabinet.

On Wednesday, the French press reported that Mitterrand vetoed four of Chirac's choices for the new Cabinet, delaying until today Chirac's acceptance of the premiership. (Story, Page 13.)

Chirac is backed by his own neo-Gaullist Rally for the Republic and by the leaders of the smaller, centrist Union for French Democracy. The two parties ran on a joint platform to capture 290 seats in the National Assembly, one more than a majority.

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