Pierre Bérégovoy

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Pierre Bérégovoy
Pierre Beregovoy.jpg
Prime Minister of France
In office
2 April 1992 – 29 March 1993
President François Mitterrand
Preceded by Édith Cresson
Succeeded by Édouard Balladur
Personal details
Born Pierre Eugène Bérégovoy
(1925-12-23)23 December 1925
Déville-lès-Rouen
Died 1 May 1993(1993-05-01) (aged 67)
Nevers
Political party Socialist
Occupation Metallurgist
Civil Servant
Religion Roman Catholic

Pierre Eugène Bérégovoy (French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁ beʁeɡɔvwa]; 23 December 1925 – 1 May 1993) was a French Socialist politician. He served as Prime Minister under François Mitterrand from 1992 to 1993.

Early career[edit]

Pierre Bérégovoy was born in Déville-lès-Rouen, Seine-Maritime to a Ukrainian father (original family name Береговий in Ukrainian or Береговой in Russian) who had left the Russian Empire after the Russian Civil War, and a French mother.

He started his professional life at the age of 16 as a qualified metal worker. He got involved in politics following his activities in the French Resistance – while working at SNCF during World War II. A member of the SFIO Socialist Party and of the trade unions confederation Workers Force, he joined the staff of the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Christian Pineau, as adviser for relations with the trade unons in 1949. One year later, he became technical agent in Gaz de France.

In 1959, he left the SFIO and participated in the foundation of the dissident Unified Socialist Party (PSU). He became an adviser of Pierre Mendès-France. In 1967, with Alain Savary, he created the pro-Mendès-France Union of clubs for the renewal of the left. This group joined the renewed Socialist Party (PS) in 1969. He joined the executive group of the party behind François Mitterrand, and participated notably in the negotiations of the Common Program of the Union of the Left.

In 1981, following Mitterrand's election as President of France, he was chosen as Secretary General of the Presidency. One year later, he joined the cabinet as Minister of Social affairs. He was among the Socialist politicians who advised President Mitterrand to leave the European Monetary System in order to continue Socialist economic policy. But in March 1983, Mitterrand listened to his Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy and ratified the change of economic policy.

The 1985 "Plaza Accord" is named after New York City's Plaza Hotel, which was the location of a meeting of finance ministers who reached an agreement about managing the fluctuating value of the US dollar. From left are Gerhard Stoltenberg of West Germany, Pierre Bérégovoy of France, James A. Baker III of the United States, Nigel Lawson of Britain and Noboru Takeshita of Japan.

Bérégovoy became Minister of the Economy and Finance, from 1984 to the 1986 Socialist electoral defeat.

Elected mayor of Nevers in 1983, and deputy of Nièvre département in 1986, in the electoral land of Mitterrand, he was manager of the latter’s 1988 presidential campaign. After his re-election, at the time of each cabinet reshuffle, his name was mentioned as a possible Prime Minister. In the end, he returned to the Ministry of the Economy and Finance. In this function, he symbolized the adaptation of French socialism to the market economy and struck up hearty relations with employer representatives.

After the 1992 regional elections, which were a disaster for the PS, he was finally appointed Prime Minister. He promised to fight unemployment, economic decline and corruption. During his inaugural speech in the French National Assembly, he claimed he knew the names of politicians from the right-wing opposition implicated in corruption scandals, causing a great hue and cry. Bérégovoy forced Bernard Tapie, his Minister of Urban Affairs, to resign in May 1992 after his indictment by the French justice. He thus created the misnamed "Balladur jurisprudence".[1] In social policy, the Bérégovoy government introduced free health care for recipients of RMI[2] and in November 1992 a law was passed that inserted a (arguably narrow) definition of sexual harassment into the labour code and empowered the labour inspectorate and workplace committees to enforce it.[3] In May 1992, increased aid was provided to farmers, mainly comprising reductions in the agricultural land tax and increased grants for young farmers.[4] In June 1992, the French parliament passed a bill which required mayors to encourage social mixing in public housing.[5]

He resigned after the Socialist electoral collapse of the March 1993 legislative election.

Political career[edit]

Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic : 1981–1982.

Governmental functions

Prime Minister : 1992–1993.

Minister of Economy and Finances : 1984–1986 / 1988–1992.

Minister of Social Affairs : 1982–1984.

Electoral mandates

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Nièvre (1st constituency) : 1986–1988 (Became minister in 1988) / March–May 1993 (Died in May 1993). Elected in 1986, reelected in 1988, 1993.

General Council

General Councillor of the Nièvre : 1985–1993 (Died in May 1993). Reelected in 1992.

Municipal Council

Mayor of Nevers : 1983–1993 (Died in May 1993). Reelected in 1989.

Municipal councillor of Nevers : 1983–1993 (Died in May 1993). Reelected in 1989.

Death[edit]

Pierre Bérégovoy died on 1 May 1993,[6] in Paris after being transported by helicopter from Nevers (Nièvre), where he had been found an hour earlier, in a coma with two bullets in the head. The second bullet was attributed to a nervous reflex. Police investigators ruled his death as a suicide, confirming his bodyguard's deposition, who said the former prime minister was with him when he grabbed the guard's gun, while according to the first version of events which appeared in the press Bérégovoy had returned alone to the car and had taken the gun from the glove box. The press also reported that "witnesses heard two shots...." before finding the corpse. The only photo released to the press showed Bérégovoy with a small wound.

Most of Bérégovoy's close friends admitted that he had been depressed ever since he lost the March legislative elections in which his Socialist Party won only 67 out of 577 parliamentary seats. Bérégovoy was also being investigated concerning a one-million-franc, interest-free, loan he received from businessman and close friend, Roger Patrice-Pelat. Patrice-Pelat died of a heart attack on 7 March 1989, less than one month after being found guilty in the Péchiney-Triangle affair.

Bérégovoy's death came on the eve of the opening of a new trial concerning the acquisition of Triangle by Péchiney. His wife expressed some doubt about whether his death actually was a suicide, mainly because he had not left a suicide note, and that his note pad, which he always kept in his pocket, had disappeared.

Funeral[edit]

At Bérégovoy's funeral, held at Nevers in an atmosphere of tension and shock, Mitterrand stated that media pressure in connection with the Pelat scandal was responsible for Bérégovoy's suicide. Targeting the press, he said "the honour of a man was given to dogs" but attributed to Bérégovoy "the greatness of one who chooses his destiny."

See also[edit]

Bérégovoy's ministry, 2 April 1992 – 29 March 1993[edit]

Changes

  • 23 May 1992 – Bernard Tapie leaves the ministry and the office of Minister of City is abolished
  • 2 October 1992 – Martin Malvy succeeds Charasse as Minister of Budget. Jean-Pierre Soisson succeeds Mermaz as Minister of Agriculture, becoming also Minister of Rural Development
  • 26 December 1992 – The office of Minister of City is re-established, with Bernard Tapie again as Minister
  • 9 March 1993 – Pierre Joxe leaves the ministry of Defence and was succeeded by Pierre Bérégovoy (who remains also Prime minister)

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nicole Questiaux
Minister of Social Affairs and National Solidarity
1982–1984
Succeeded by
Georgina Dufoix
Preceded by
Jacques Delors
Minister of the Economy and Finance
1984–1986
Succeeded by
Édouard Balladur
Minister of Budget
1984–1986
Succeeded by
Alain Juppé
Preceded by
Édouard Balladur
Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Privatization
1988–1992
Succeeded by
Michel Sapin
Preceded by
Édith Cresson
Prime Minister of France
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Édouard Balladur
Preceded by
Pierre Joxe
Minister of Defence
1993
Succeeded by
François Léotard