The Meaning of Mitterrand
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The Meaning of Mitterrand book
Francois Mitterrand cared a great deal about history's verdict on him, but little about contemporary criticism. His career ended in a long, melancholy withdrawal in the course of a second cohabitation and a debilitating illness, accompanied by scandals and disturbing admissions about his youth and activities as a minor functionary of the Vichy government. Mitterrand was a profoundly secretive and devious man. Some measure of these qualities is undoubtedly necessary in the successful chief of a democratic state, which demands of its leaders the antithetical attributes of honest openness and political effectiveness. Mitterrand also persisted in showing high regard for the shady businessman Bernard Tapie, even after Tapie had repeatedly been indicted. When both Mitterrand's friends and his foes are asked what they consider his principal achievements, they speak largely of actions taken in his first septennat: abolition of the death penalty, freeing the airwaves and television, decentralization, ending the indexation of salaries.