Delors candidacy urged

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PARIS (Reuter) - A French Socialist politician announced yesterday that he had formed a committee to draft the outgoing European Commission president, Jacques Delors, as a candidate for the French presidency next year.

Lucien Weygand, who is currently president of the Bouches-du-Rhone department council, which includes Marseille, said he had received more than 2,000 letters of support since placing advertisements last month urging Mr Delors to run.

He said he planned to set up branches of the 'Committee to support Jacques Delors' candidacy in the 1995 presidential election' across France. Mr Weygand stressed that Mr Delors was not behind the initiative. The European Union's chief executive has refused to say whether he will run and has said that he will stay out of French politics until his Brussels term expires next January.

'We need a vast popular movement across the country to bring about a candidacy behind which all those who support the ideal of progress can unite. Only the left can do this,' Mr Weygand said.

Opinion polls show Mr Delors is by far the most popular left-wing candidate to succeed the Socialist President, Francois Mitterrand, and the only one with a chance of beating the Conservative Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, or the Gaullist leader, Jacques Chirac. One poll published yesterday showed 47 per cent of French voters would trust Mr Delors as president, putting him second just behind Mr Balladur, on 51 per cent, and far ahead of Mr Chirac, on 36 per cent.