By his own admission, Frangois Mitterrand - a man of letters and philosophical reflection - was very much an economic novice prior to his election as president. His discomfort with economic issues had become apparent during the 1974 presidential election campaign, when the candidate of the united left appeared in an unfavourable light in a televised confrontation with Giscard d'Estaing. The more experienced candidate of 1981 (expertly advised) avoided earlier pitfalls by concentrating upon the economic record of Raymond Barre's governments. But he remained somewhat ill-at-ease in relation to economic dossiers, especially when they were presented as a limitation on political priorities. Mitterrand did not conceal his distrust for those such as Rocard who repeatedly stressed the economic constraints a leftwing government would inevitably face.1