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Mendès-France, Pierre (1907–82)

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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Prime Minister of the French fourth republic (1954–5). Born in Paris to middle-class Jewish parents, Mendès-France followed a career at the bar, becoming deputy for the Eure in 1932 as the country's youngest representative. A member of the center-left Radical Socialist Party, he served as minister of finance in the 1936 popular front government of blum , returning as under-secretary to the Treasury in the latter's short-lived second cabinet of 1938. In June 1940, after service with the air force early in world war ii , he boarded the steamboat Massilia , along with 18 other deputies, intending to establish a government of exile in North Africa. For this, he was arrested as a deserter by the vichy regime and given a six-year prison sentence. However, he escaped to London where he worked alongside de gaulle , becoming finance commissioner of the Comité Français de Liberation Nationale in which capacity he travelled to the monetary conference at which the bretton woods agreement was signed (July 1944). In September that year, he was appointed minister of finance, yet resigned in April 1945 as de Gaulle would not support his severe austerity policies. In 1954–5 he served for seven months as prime minister. Though occasionally ridiculed for his Saturday evening radio homilies which encouraged the French to drink milk instead of wine, so as to curb alcoholism and absenteeism ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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