A Socialist, according to these polls, is the most popular politician in France and therefore a leading candidate for the presidency. But that Socialist is neither [Laurent Fabius]-declining in poll ratings-nor President Francois Mitterrand, who is recording dismal ratings. Michel Rocard, a 55-year-old short, tense intellectual who resigned from the Cabinet in a dispute earlier this year, is the Socialist with rare popularity.
Basically, Rocard believes that the Socialist Party must move toward the center if it wants to retain or later regain power in France. However, traditional Socialists like [Lionel Jospin] believe that the real ground for the Socialists lies on the left and that victory therefore depends on rallying Communist voters to the Socialists or to a Socialist-led leftist coalition.
On the key issue of alliances after next year's elections, Rocard said that the Socialists should make clear to the voters exactly what they intend to do. The issue arises because the Socialists, while they may continue as the largest party in France, will surely fail to win enough seats to control the National Assembly even with Communist support. That would confront France with a novel situation under its present constitution: a Socialist president until 1988 with a conservative Parliament.