1988-1995 - Mitterrand's Second Septennate
On May 8, 1988, François Mitterrand, at the conclusion of an active campaign, was re-elected president of the Republic with 54% of the votes. The legislative elections gave a relative majority to the PS. Michel Rocard was named Prime Minister. By integrating personalities known for coming from the "civil society" and center, the government reflected the reality of the presidential majority, but the PS was the only large party to support it.
In the party, the departure of Lionel Jospin as the First secretariat caused tensions within the majority Mitterrandist current . Pierre Mauroy was elected First secretary against Laurent Fabius. Two years later, the congress of Rennes saw the strong opposition of the partisans of motion 1 (Mauroy-Mermaz-Jospin) and those of motion 5 (Laurent Fabius). Finally, Pierre Mauroy was re-elected unanimously after a general synthesis which associated the direction of the party with the the currents which had been expressed through the presentation of seven different motions.
Pierre Mauroy concluded a double modernization. A statutory modernization and a reactualization of the statement of principles to the congress of Rennes. An ideological modernization with the congress De Arc devoted to the socialist project. In addition, the PS obtained new instruments: creation of the Foundation Jean Jaurès, the Condorcet Center and the weekly magazine "Friday".
Between 1988 and 1992, the president of the Republic and the governments of Michel Rocard (May 1988 - June 1991), then of Edith Cresson (June 1991 - March 1992) gave priority to European construction and the definition of a new international order, after the end of the Cold War, the collapse of Communism in Europe and the test of the war of the Gulf. Internally, the governments endeavored to fill the commitments entered into by François Mitterrand in 1988 in the "Letter to all the French" (, eg, the chapter devoted to taxes).
The beginning of the year 1992 was marked by great changes. Pierre Mauroy left the direction of the PS, Laurent Fabius succeeded him at the conclusion of the management committee of January 9, 1992, and laid down three objectives: to renovate the party, to gather the Socialists and to reform the French economy. Progression towards European unity had slowed as Britain, France and Germany have allowed domestic issues to overwhelm their policy towards the EC. French Socialists feared the political consequences of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs if it is ratified.
After a severe defeat at the polls with the regional elections of March 1992, Pierre Bérégovoy was named Prime Minister. His government determined three main priorities: fight against corruption, fights against long-term unemployment, fights against insecurity. Pierre Bérégovoy also endeavours to promote a stable franc. He reorganized the financial markets to recreate healthy economic conditions making it possible for companies to regain market share and to manage to raise employment.
The extraordinary congress of Bordeaux, in July 1992, adopted the program, inspired of the project, for the legislative elections of 1993. The reform of the statutes "for the revival of the party" was the subject of a consensus between all the currents.
If the period 1981-1993 was, for French socialism, that of the transformation successful into a governing party, it did not escape wear from the governance, with discredit due to the climate of the "businesses" and a difficult economic situation where three million unemployed were listed. The PS (with the whole of the left) experienced a severe defeat with the legislative elections of March 1993. The socialist party had only 54 seats (against 258 in the preceding assembly).
The Socialist party, although remaining the first party on the left, became aware of the need for its questioning and its rebuilding to rectify its influence in its electorate and in particular in popular environments. After the management committee of April 3, 1993 and the collective resignation of the direction, a provisional direction was set up, chaired by Michel Rocard, who decided the meeting of general states of the party. A few days later, the socialist party underwent a cruel mourning when on May 1, 1993, Pierre Bérégovoy killed himself.
To the general states of Lyon, in July 1993, word was given to militants and to sympathizers on the assessment of the project for strategy and militancy. The federations sent 2358 deputy (militants and sympathizers) to Lyon. The procedure, which was new, was a success, and the final report was approved with the near unanimity. The general states confirmed the unit of the remobilized party, its strategy of gathering on the left, and a redeployment in associative and professional networks.
To the congress of Le Bourget, in October 1993, three texts were submitted to the militants. The motion "Refonder" was presented by Michel Rocard, which proposed different options on five questions (reduction of the international business, working time, European institution, institution, way of voting), on which only the militants voted to decide this text. It obtained 83% of the votes. The two other motions, which were defended respectively by Jean Poperen and Louis Mermaz, obtain 11% and 6%.
The party defined its program on three main themes "reduction of the working time, a new Europe, continuous equality of opprotunity" and began in preparation for social transformation. The First secretary was elected for the first time by the congress by the direct suffrage. Michel Rocard, confirmed with the direction of the Party by 80.92% of the votes of the congress, announced that he would lead the socialist list to the European elections, on which a parity of "one man - one woman" would be respected.
French Socialist Party leader Michel Rocard's dismissal of Laurent Fabius as party secretary alienated many high-ranking party members, many of whom resigned in protest. Rocard's emphasis on a leftist political strategy threatened to the party and doom his presidential aspirations.
The rectification marked by the cantonal elections of March 1994 was not confirmed with the European elections June. The list led by Michel Rocard obtained only 14.6% of the voice, followed by the list of Bernard Tapie. In the national council of June 19, Michel Rocard was in minority and a new First secretary, Henri Emmanuelli, was elected. He was confirmed by the vote of the delegates to the congress of Liévin in November 1994. The motion presented by Henri Emmanuelli collected 92.15% of the votes against a motion defended by young militants, which gathered 7.85% of the voices.
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