Balladur to head new French government: Mitterrand starts 'cohabitation' with Gaullist

President Francois Mitterrand yesterday appointed Edouard Balladur, the senior Gaullist politician, as Prime Minister, speeding up the transition to a new left-right cohabitation in France.

Only the timing of the announcement, 24 hours after the President's Socialist Party was trounced in parliamentary elections, was a surprise. Mr Balladur, 63, of the RPR (Gaullist) party, the biggest in the new National Assembly, had been tipped for months as the most likely new head of government. Mr Mitterrand had been expected to make a statement last night but not necessarily to name Mr Balladur. He had earlier accepted the resignation of Pierre Beregovoy, the outgoing Socialist prime minister.

In a four-minute televised address, Mr Mitterrand paid an unexpected tribute to Mr Balladur, saying he had named him not only because he believed the former Finance Minister was the best placed to control the huge 484-seat conservative bloc in the 577-seat parliament but also 'in view of his competence'. He said he hoped the new Prime Minister would form 'a coherent and solid team' as quickly as possible.

Later in the evening, after a 70- minute conversation with the President, Mr Balladur said he intended to form a cabinet which would be 'limited (in size) so as to work with coherence, efficiency and solidarity'.

Although the 76-year-old President, who appeared to be in buoyant form, said the wishes of the electorate would be 'scrupulously respected', he said he intended to 'watch over the conduct of our foreign policy and of defence policy'. That appeared to confirm his determination to remain head of state until the end of his mandate in May 1995.

It is in foreign policy and defence that the alliance of Gaullists and the centre-right Union for French Democracy (UDF) most fears clashes with the head of state. During the first 1986-88 cohabitation, Mr Mitterrand had the last say on both those subjects. But now his party has been so massively rejected, the government will argue that he has little right to exercise the same influence.

Mr Mitterrand said he would pay particular attention to moves towards a more united Europe and spoke of the need to keep the franc tied to the German mark in the European Monetary System. Some members of the new majority, but none likely to take important portfolios, believe the franc should be floated, implying a devaluation, to boost exports and help to ease unemployment.

Final figures for Sunday's election gave the Gaullists 247 seats, the UDF 213 and other independent conservatives 24. The Socialists lost 200 seats to take 70 and the communists took 23.

Mr Mitterrand said he awaited 'a calm judgement' of Socialist rule. 'I trust in that of history,' he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk