Apres Mitterand

PARIS: Asked at 19 what he would like to be, Francois Mitterrand answered "all, or nothing". Through his life he kept to these words. Upon escaping from a WWII prison camp, he started to climb, first in Vichy, then in the Resistance, the ladder which was to bring him in 1981, and for fourteen years, to the head of the State.

Since the beginning of the 5th Republic, the Right took it for granted that it would stay long in power for the simple reason that the division of the Left between the communists and socialists was too deep to be overcome. But Mitterrand managed to convince the leadership of the two parties that, since it was the only way to win, their alliance was not only necessary but feasible. George Marchais, boss of the powerful communist party at the time, assumed the communists would play a predominant role in a victory of the Left. Almost everybody in the conservative ranks shared that view, but Moscow, always distrustful of the social-democrats, made it clear that it didn't approve of the rapprochement.

Finally the balance turned in Mitterrand's favor. The communists lost much ground to their partners and rivals in the 1981 elections and had to satisfy themselves with four minor portfolios in the new cabinet. A few days later, Mitterrand was telling George Bush, then vice-president, that he asked the communists to join his government essentially to prevent them from opposing necessary unpopular measures he would take. And, he correctly predicted that in less than three years they would understand that participation in the government was ruining their image and would withdraw their ministers.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.

    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?

    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now