Pierre Eugène Bérégovoy

(b. 1925)

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Charles de Gaulle (1890—1970) French general and statesman

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Edith Cresson (b. 1934)


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(b. Déville-lès-Rouen, 23 Dec. 1925; d. Nevers, 4 May 1993)

French; Prime Minister 1992–3 The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Bérégovoy left school at 16 and worked on the railways. He was in the Socialist Party (SFIO) youth movement and in the war joined the Resistance. In 1950 he entered Gaz de France and rose to managerial rank. In 1956 Bérégovoy quit the SFIO in protest at its Algerian policy and in 1958 opposed the return of de Gaulle to power. He was in the Parti Socialiste Unifié but he joined the refounded Parti Socialiste in 1969. Elected to both its Directing Committee and its Executive Bureau, Bérégovoy was sympathetic to Mitterrand's policy of uniting the left and collaborated with the new leadership after the Épinay party congress of 1971, most notably as national secretary for negotiations with the Communist Party. He had been an admirer of Mendès France and was not a member of the Mitterrand circle and, although one of the few top Socialists from humble origins, made slow headway in the Mitterrand-led party. He was, however, elected a deputy for the Nièvre (Mitterrand's department) in 1986 and had become an admirer of the President. Of realistic (Mendésiste) views, Bérégovoy was one of the proponents of restraint in the early Socialist government in 1981–3 and was sceptical of the ‘dash for growth’ which led to balance of payments problems and a U-turn in 1983. Bérégovoy was the most obvious choice for Prime Minister in 1991 but Mitterrand chose Mme Cresson—who had only short tenure. By 1992 Bérégovoy had no time to make an impact on a disillusioned public and his term was dogged by a scandal involving an unsecured loan. After the Socialist defeat of March 1993 he committed suicide in despair.

Subjects: Politics.

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