Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Remembering May 10th, 1981

This was a recurrent theme across the French media today, and it took me most of the day to figure out why. The answer is straightforward - May 10th, 1981 is the date when Francois Mitterrand became President of France.

He was the only leftist politician to become President of the Fifth Republic, as the day's headlines constantly remind us. Like most politicians, he enjoyed mixed success during his time in office, but was elected to a second term with 54% of the vote, in 1988. He was weakened during his final years in office by the prostate cancer that eventually killed him, in January 1996, eight months after leaving office. According to Wikipedia:

A few days before his death, he was joined by family members and close friends for a "last meal" that attracted some attention because, in addition to other gourmet dishes, it included the serving of roast ortolan bunting, a small wild songbird which is a protected species whose sale is (and was at the time) illegal in France.

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