Lionel Jospin, the socialist prime minister of France, could lose his neck-and-neck race for the nation’s presidency to incumbent President Jacques Chirac if Jospin’s environmental allies make good on their promise to pull their support should the prime minister refuse to back a phase-out of nuclear power. The Green Party accounts for about 10 percent of the left-wing vote in France — enough, opinion polls suggest, to make its voice critical to the outcome of a May 5 runoff election for the presidency. Noel Mamere, the Green Party candidate in the first round of votes, said Jospin’s refusal to consider ending nuclear power “will not encourage me to urge Greens to back him in the second round.” France has one of the world’s highest concentrations of nuclear power plants, which generate more than 75 percent of the nation’s power.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.