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Born Oct. 26, 1916, in Jarnac, department of Charente. French politician. Lawyer by education.
Mitterrand served in World War II from September 1939. He was wounded and taken prisoner. After escaping in 1942, he worked in the Resistance and headed the National Movement of War Prisoners and Deportees. In 1944 he became secretary-general for War Prisoners and Deportees in the De Gaulle government. A deputy in parliament from 1946 to 1958 and again from 1962, Mitterrand was a leader of the party known as the Democratic and Socialist Resistance Union, of which he was chairman from 1953 to 1965. A member of the government from 1947 to 1948 and from 1950 to 1953, he resigned in 1953 in opposition to the government’s policy in North Africa. From 1954 to 1957 he was again member of the government.
Mitterrand was the candidate of the left in the presidential elections of 1965. From December 1965 to November 1968 he was president of the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left. He headed the party known as the Convention of Republican Institutions from December 1970 to June 1971. After the socialist unity congress in June 1971, Mitterrand was chosen first secretary of the Socialist Party. In 1972 he signed the governmental program of the united left. A candidate of the left in the presidential election of 1974, Mitterrand won 49.2 percent of the vote. Since 1972 he has been vice-president of the Socialist International. [16–1001–4; updated]