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The Return Of Socialism in France: François Mitterrand

With a move to the right by Germany and England, France decided to take a different rout and move to the left and induct a socialist leader. In the French elections of 1981 François Mitterrand won the election gaining 52% of the popular vote. This was the first left wing government the Fifth republic and the first left government in 23 years. Mitterrand did much to reform the Fifth republic. He stated by nationalizing many major companies and financial institutions. He also took steps to rebuild the French economy by increasing workers wages and improving worker’s social benefits which was the opposite of what most European countries were doing. After five years in office Mitterrand’s policies worked and the French had shortened their work week, lowered the retirement age, and raised social security benefits. Also under Mitterrand’s rule private radio and television broadcasting were allowed for the first time. After Mitterrand’s election he decided to dissolve the parliament to have the majority but that would only last until the parliament reelections. Even after all these accomplishments the French elected two conservative parties to the parliament in March of 1986. With Presidential elections looming in the spring of 1988 Mitterrand felt scared that he may lose because of the parliament elections. In the spring of 1988 the French reelected Mitterrand for another term until 1995. Once again he dissolved the parliament after his reelection. In 1995 Mitterrand died or cancer. He was the oldest living President of the Fifth Republic and held the Presidential position the longest in French history.


Ben Winter
Meagan Smith
Bryce Benda
Elle Soderberg