By early 1986 the stringent economic policies launched in 1982 and 1983 had begun to bear fruit. Inflation was down and expected to sink further, the wave of mass layoffs in industry seemed to have ended, and the nationalized industries were beginning to show a profit. Energy and ambition were the most striking characteristics of the new prime minister, whose rapid career had been marked both by ability and unpredictability. In late 1978, preparing for the first European elections to be held by popular vote, Chirac once more let himself be influenced by his familiar demons Pierre Juillet and Marie-France Garaud. Cohabitation had always been understood as a transition, an interval before the next presidential election. Still, there was much debate about the length of the interval and fear that the strong presidential institutions of the Fifth Republic might be permanently affected by a period in which the president would take a backseat to the prime minister.