François Mitterrand

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François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand ([fʁɑ̃swa mɔʁis mitɛˈʁɑ̃]  ( listen), 26 October 1916 – 8 January 1996) was the 21st President of the French Republic, serving from 1981 until 1995, and the candidate of the left in each presidential election of the Fifth Republic from 1965 to 1988, except 1969.

First elected during the May 1981 presidential election, he became the first socialist President of the Fifth Republic, and the first left-wing head of state since 1954. He is to date the only member of the Socialist Party to be elected as the President of France.

He was re-elected in 1988 and held office until 1995, before his death from prostate cancer the following year. At the beginning of each of his two terms, he dissolved the Parliament and held a fresh legislative election in the hope that the Socialist Party would win and he would have a parliamentary majority. This did indeed happen as he hoped; however, both times, his party lost the next legislative elections. He was consequently forced into "cohabitation governments" during the two last years of each of his terms with conservative cabinets. They were led by Jacques Chirac from 1986 until 1988, and by Édouard Balladur from 1993 to 1995.

As of 2010 Mitterrand holds the record of the longest-serving (almost 14 years) President of France. He was also the oldest President of the Fifth Republic, leaving office aged 78 years and seven months. He died on 8 January 1996 after returning from a Christmas holiday in Egypt.

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