Judging by the polls, the leading contenders for president are, among the conservatives, [Raymond Barre] and Jacques Chirac, mayor of Paris and a former premier, and, assuming that the 69-year-old [Francois Mitterrand] does not run for reelection, [Michel Rocard] and Premier Laurent Fabius among the Socialists.
Chirac wants Mitterrand to stay on. His scenario would be upset if Mitterrand resigned and forced an election now. It might also be upset if Chirac, as the conservative premier, were to find himself constantly slugging it out with the Socialist president. Chirac, in the view of most analysts, would need a quiet, constructive two years as premier to build up his reputation.
Rocard, 55, is the Socialist with the best chance of matching Barre. Yet as a maverick who resigned as minister of agriculture to protest Mitterrand's decision last year to impose an electoral system of proportional representation, Rocard is not admired by those who run the Socialist Party.