France is moving toward centrist rule. In a television address following Sunday's legislative elections, Socialist President Fran,cois Mitterrand ruled out any alliance with the Communists. The President said he will rename moderate Michel Rocard as prime minister next week when the newly elected National Assembly meets.
The composition of the assembly has caused some confusion since no single political party holds an absolute majority.
The Socialists make up the largest block, with 276 seats, but they are 13 short of the 289 seats needed for a majority.
Mr. Mitterrand instructed Mr. Rocard to rule with a Socialist minority government, perhaps with some non-Socialist Cabinet ministers, designed to broaden the Cabinet's appeal.
This government would draft legislation designed to attract wide legislative support.
``We will then see who is and who is not prepared to grasp this outstretched hand,'' the French President said.
The eventual goal is to form a center-left coalition. A centrist group with 50 deputies known as the Center for Social Democrats (CDS) decided Tuesday to establish itself as an autonomous parliamentary group, making a coalition look achievable.
Although CDS leader Pierre M'ehaignerie said the group intended to remain in the opposition, analysts say his move could be the first step toward organizing the center into a coherent force that would play a swing role in coalitions.
The result would be a political system resembling the West German model. German voters always have refused to give a clear majority to either of the major right or left parties, insisting that the parties govern in partnership with the centrist Free Democrats.
``Paradoxically, these legislative elections created, on the right and left, the necessary conditions for a true `compromise,''' wrote Serge July, the editor of the daily Lib'eration. ``The emergence of an autonomous center is a clear sign.''
Dangers still exist, however. The right-left polarization coloring French politics since the 1789 Revolution won't disappear without pain, and some analysts are concerned that France faces a period of continuing political turmoil threatening to weaken the country's international role.
One sign of future problems: The new autonomous CDS was threatened with exclusion from campaign pacts in upcoming local elections by its political allies in the Union for French Democracy.
``France could become a rudderless ship,'' says Le Monde, ``buffeted by the passions or apathy of the moment.''
On television, Mitterrand outlined a series of goals for the new government which enjoy broad support: working toward a united Europe, supporting superpower disarmament, investing more in research and education, modernizing French industry, and guarding an elaborate social security system.
The French President, however, seemed serene about the lack of an absolute Socialist majority in the National Assembly.
He noted that West Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands all are run by minority or coalition governments.
After their ``multiple success,'' Mitterrand asked, ``is it possible to say that these countries work poorly?''