November 30, 2021
Pierre Mendès France, nicknamed PMF, born January 11, 1907 in Paris and died October 18, 1982 in the same city, is a French statesman. He was introduced to political life in 1924 in the student movements of opposition to the far right, then was elected deputy for Eure in 1932. Radical-socialist, he participated in the Popular Front coalition. He was a member of the second Blum government in 1938. During World War II, after being imprisoned by the Vichy regime, he managed to join the Resistance and joined the Free French Air Forces. He was Finance Commissioner then Minister of National Economy in the provisional government of General de Gaulle from September 1943 to April 1945. Appointed President of the Council by President René Coty in June 1954, he combined this function with that of Minister of Foreign Affairs. If he succeeds in concluding peace in Indochina, in preparing for Tunisia's independence and in initiating that of Morocco, his attempts at reform in Algeria lead to the fall of his government, a target both of his colonialist adversaries and of his usual anti-colonialist political supporters. He then left the presidency of the government in February 1955, after being overthrown by the National Assembly on the very sensitive issue of French Algeria. Minister of State without portfolio in the Guy Mollet government in 1956, he resigned after a few months because of his disagreement with the policy of the Mollet cabinet conducted in Algeria. He voted against the investiture of Charles de Gaulle as President of the Council in 1958, then abandoned all his local mandates after his defeat in the legislative elections in November of the same year. Elected deputy for the 2nd constituency of Isère in 1967, then defeated the following year, he formed a “ticket” with Gaston Defferre during the presidential campaign of 1969, but he won only 5% of the votes cast. Although he only led the government of France for just over seven months, he is a moral figure for part of the left in France. Beyond that, it remains a reference for personalities of the French political class, embodying the symbol of a demanding conception of politics.