“5… 4… 3… 2… 1. François Mitterrand is elected President of the Republic.” On May 10, 1981, at 8 p.m., Jean-Pierre Elkabbach announced on Antenne 2 the victory of the leftist candidate in the presidential election, a first under the Fifth Republic.
Scenes of jubilation take place all over France. “This is one of the last elections where there was no disappointment yet. There is hope, crazy happiness”, remembers Cécile Amar, author of the documentary May 10, 81, change your life ?, directed by Stéphane Benhamou and broadcast Tuesday May 11 at 9:05 p.m. on France 2.
We went to look for archives abroad. Swiss TV sent information officers at the time to survey France. We had never seen their imagesCecile Amar
While the people of the left celebrated the coming to power of François Mitterrand, the right predicted the entry of Soviet tanks into Paris: “They never arrived at Place de la Concorde! In the minds of right-wing voters, the Communist government ministers meant that the Soviet Union was going to rule in France!”
As soon as he takes office, the Socialist President implements his promises: retirement at age 60, 5th week of paid leave, salary increase, 39-hour week. “He changed the lives of millions of French people by very strong social measures made in the first weeks. François Mitterrand often said: ‘What we are not doing now, we will not do ‘. We have forgotten it, but from May to December 1981, there are really many new measures and rights for workers and the French in general, recalls Cécile Amar. But in 1983, it is the turning point of rigor, a term that François Mitterrand will always refute, which will generate disillusions: “For part of the left, it will remain a betrayal.”