President of France from 1981 to 1995. Defeated Valéry Giscard d'Estaing after a leftist victory on the May 10th election '81 and became the first socialist to hold the office. He early abandoned leftist economic theories and quickly moved to rule as a centrist.
After securing a left-wing majority in the national assembly, he was able to go through with popular reforms, including nationalizing financial institutions and key industrial enterprises, raising the minimum wage, increasing social benefits and abolishing the death penalty. The reforms were expensive, and the government started to cut down on spending quickly after they were introduced. By the end of Mitterrands first term the Socialist Party had adopted free-market liberalism
and centrist policies in most areas.
Mitterrand enlisted in the French infantry at the outbreak of World War II, but was captured by Germans soon after. He escaped in 1941, and joined with the collaborators in the Vichy government until 1943, when he left and joined the resistance movement
Died in Paris on January 8th, 1996.