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François Mitterrand

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François Mitterrand (October 26, 1916 - January 8, 1996) was a French politician and President of France from May 1981, re-elected in 1988, until 1995.

Mitterrand was born in Jarnac, Charente, and worked with the resistance in World War II. After the war he quickly moved into politics, and was elected as representative for Nièvre in 1946. He held various offices in the Fourth Republic[?] before resigning in 1957 over the French policy for Algiers. In 1959, on the avenue de l'Observatoire in Paris, Mitterand escaped an assassin's bullet by diving behind a hedge. The incident brought him a great deal publicity, boosting his political ambitions. Some of his critics claim that he had staged the incident himself.

In the Fifth Republic he stood in the Presidential elections against Charles de Gaulle in 1965 but was defeated. He turned to the Socialist Party (PS), becoming leader of the party by 1971, following the Congress of Epinay. He stood again in 1974 opposite Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and was again defeated. But in 1981 he became the first socialist President of the Fifth Republic.

Domestically his aims were blunted first by a conservative parliament and then by a series of financial crises, although he worked well with the Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. His major achievements came internationally, especially in the European Economic Community. He supported the extension of the Community to Spain and Portugal (who both joined in January 1986) and in February 1986 he helped the Acte Unique come into effect. He worked well with Helmut Kohl and improved Franco-German relations measurably. Together they fathered the Maastricht Treaty, which was signed on February 7, 1992.

His Minister of Culture Jacques Toubon proposed a law to protect the French language: "Toubon Law" (1994).

His Prime Ministers were:

Prime Minister fromto Remarks
Edouard Balladur[?]19931995Second cohabitation
Pierre Bérégovoy[?]19921993
Edith Cresson[?]19911992
Michel Rocard[?]19881991
Jacques Chirac19861988First cohabitation of the Fifth Republic
Laurent Fabius[?]19841986
Pierre Mauroy[?]19811984

His term as President ended in May 1995, he was succeeded by Chirac and died of cancer six months later.

Preceded by:
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
President of France Succeeded by:
Jacques Chirac

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