The president's distinction, however, seemed out of date. In 1981, the Communists joined the Socialists in electing [Francois Mitterrand] and taking control of the National Assembly through a coalition of the left. But the Communists withdrew their support last year, and [Laurent Fabius]' assembly "majority" is now made up almost entirely of Socialists.
There had been obvious differences of opinion between Fabius and [Lionel Jospin] before, but the current troubles began June 14, when Fabius addressed a political rally in Marseilles. The premier's aides billed the rally as the start of the long parliamentary electoral campaign for the Socialists. In a newspaper interview, Fabius described himself as both "chief of the government and of the majority."
Many Socialists are looking for a stronger signal from Mitterrand than his comments that both Fabius and Jospin are right. They want Mitterrand to force the two younger men to settle their argument well before the next party congress in October.