France Holding Most of the Cards

After a stunning win, Mitterrand plays his ace: a snap election

In days of yore the defeated general would have handed over his sword and scabbard on the field of battle. In France last week, the vanquished paid homage to the victor during a tense nine-minute ceremony in a brocaded Louis XV-style study of the Elysee Palace, in which Jacques Chirac tendered his resignation as Premier to the adversary who had beaten him at the polls two days before: re-elected President Francois Mitterrand. Then Mitterrand got cracking. Over the next 48 hours he gave France a new Premier, moderate Socialist Michel Rocard; a new 26-member Cabinet that includes six non- Socialist independents;...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!