b. 26 Oct 1916, Jarnac, Charente
|Title:||Président de la République (President of the Republic)|
|Term:||21 May 1981 - 20 May 1988|
|Chronology:||10 May 1981, elected by direct popular voting|
|21 May 1981, installed as president, installation ceremony, Salle des Fêtes, Palais de l'Elysée, Paris [1; 5]|
|20 May 1988, 24:00, expiration of term (Decision of the Constitutional Council of 11 May 1988)|
|Term:||21 May 1988 - 17 May 1995|
|Chronology:||8 May 1988, re-elected by direct popular voting|
|21 May 1988, 00:00, presidential term commenced (Decision of the Constitutional Council of 11 May 1988)|
|21 May 1988, installed as president, installation ceremony, Salle des Fêtes, Palais de l'Elysée, Paris|
|17 May 1995, expiration of term [2; 8]|
In 1947 François Mitterrand became a cabinet minister in the government of Paul Ramadier. Over the next 12 years, Mitterrand held cabinet posts in 11 governments. In 1965 he stood against Charles de Gaulle at the presidential election, but lost it. After his election as first secretary of the Socialist Party in 1971, Mitterrand was defeated in his second presidential bid, in 1974. However, his strategy led to the upset Socialist victory of 10 May 1981, when he defeated the incumbent president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
Mitterrand called legislative elections soon after his victory, and a new left-wing majority in the National Assembly enabled him to effect the reforms he had promised. It included nationalizing financial institutions and key industrial enterprises, raising the minimum wage, increasing social benefits, and abolishing the death penalty. Mitterrand's socialist economic policies caused increased inflation and other problems, so in 1983 the government began to cut spending. By the end of Mitterrand's first term in office, the Socialist Party had abandoned socialist policies in all but name and essentially had adopted free-market liberalism. In 1986 the parties of the right won a majority of seats in the National Assembly, and so Mitterrand had to ask one of the leaders of the right-wing majority, Jacques Chirac, to be his prime minister (20 Mar 1986 - 10 May 1988). Under this power-sharing arrangement, Mitterrand retained responsibility for foreign policy. He soundly defeated Chirac in the presidential elections of 1988 and thus secured to another seven-year term.
The newly reelected Mitterrand again called elections, and the Socialists regained a working majority in the National Assembly. His second term was marked by vigorous efforts to promote European unity and to avoid German economic domination of France by binding both countries into strong European institutions. Mitterrand was thus a leading proponent of the Treaty on European Union (1991), which provided for a centralized European banking system, a common currency, and a unified foreign policy. He was less successful in domestic matters, particularly in coping with France's persistently high unemployment rate, which had risen to 12 percent by 1993. In 1991 he appointed the socialist Edith Cresson to be prime minister (15 May 1991 - 2 Apr 1992); she became the first woman in French history to hold that office. The Socialist Party suffered a crushing defeat in the legislative elections of 1993, and Mitterrand spent the last two years of his second term working with a center-right government under Prime Minister Édouard Balladur (29 Mar 1993 - 17 May 1995). Biography source: 
|Information source for election results: 1981 [4; 5], 1988 [6; 7]|
The Decision of the Constitutional Council of the French Republic of 15 May 1981  enabled the outgoing President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing to choose any time for the transfer of presidential authority not later than 00:00 24 May 1981. Thus, the installation ceremony took place three days before the deadline, on 21 May 1981.
The Decision of the Constitutional Council of the French Republic of 12 May 1995  enabled the outgoing President Mitterand to choose any time for the transfer of presidential authority not later than 00:00 21 May 1995. Thus, the installation ceremony took place four days before the deadline, on 17 May 1995.
|||"Who's Who in France".|
|||Journal Officiel de la République Française, 30 Apr 1981, p. 1231.|
|||Journal Officiel de la République Française, 16 May 1981, p. 1467.|
|||Journal Officiel de la République Française, 28 Apr 1988, p. 5648.|
|||Journal Officiel de la République Française, 12 May 1988, p. 7036.|
|||Journal Officiel de la République Française, 14 May 1995, p. 8149.|
|image: © Documentation française. Ph. Gisèle Freund. Photograph displayed at the Presidency of the French Republic official web site.|