Taking note of the returns, [Francois Mitterrand] said that the new conservative majority in the French National Assembly is "weak, but it exists." He will therefore name the premier from its ranks today, he said. Mitterrand went on to say that he will "scrupulously follow the constitution" and that there is a need for everyone to sublimate personal interests to the needs of the country as a whole.
The communique issued by the conservatives Monday appeared to be an attempt to pressure Mitterrand to name [Jacques Chirac], 53, who has made many allies-but who also has made many political enemies, even among rightists, during a long career. By choosing Chirac, Mitterrand would be following the old French tradition of giving the leader of the largest party in a coalition the first chance at trying to form a government.
Despite the bluster of the communique, the slim conservative majority gives Mitterrand lots of room to maneuver. Among others mentioned in the French press as possible nominees as premiers are three conservatives looked on as moderates and possible conciliators: 60-year-old [Valery Giscard] d'Estaing, who ranks low in public opinion polls but still has the prestige of a former president; 71-year-old former Premier Jacques Chaban-Delmas, a former Resistance fighter who is a close friend of Mitterrand, and 58-year-old Simone Veil, a popular former health minister and a Jewish survivor of the Nazi extermination camps.