Sir: John Laughland has been denouncing Francois Mitterrand for a number of years now. He should, however, know better than to suggest that Mitterrand inaugurated the practice whereby the president gets rid of the prime minister in order to protect his own authority.
De Gaulle did this in 1968 and so did Pompidou in 1972. It is also the case that in 1986, and again in 1993, Mitterrand responded to the election of a hostile majority in the National Assembly by appointing a government of his political opponents and allowing it to govern. What became known as "cohabitation" demonstrated not only the flexibility of the Fifth Republic's constitutional rules but also Mitterrand's recognition that the president does not possess a monopoly of democratic representativeness.
A touch of intellectual serenity might have reminded Mr Laughland of these points.
Department of Languages
and European Studies