However, the signs of a deterioration in government policy were accumulating from various quarters: the victory of the center-right parties in the cantonal elections of March 1985 (53% of the votes against 46.2% obtained by the government parties); the first anti-government general strike since Mitterrand held the office of President of the Republic, proclaimed in October 1985 by the Communist-led CGT; the need to intervene in Chad against Libyan violations of the agreements signed to guarantee the independence of that country. It is therefore easy to understand that the political elections of March 1986 restored the center-right coalition to power, sanctioning the success obtained by the RPR and the UDR (Union des Démocrates pour la République). On the basis of a corrected proportional electoral law with a parliamentary access barrier for lists that obtained less than 5% of the votes (approved in March of the previous year, and which increased the seats in the National Assembly from 491 to 577), the neo-Gaullists alone obtained 11.2% of the votes (and 76 deputies), the Giscardians alone 8.3% of the votes (and 53 seats); the two formations united 21.4% of the preferences (and 147 representatives). On the other hand, the PSF managed to maintain the position of first party with 31% of the votes (and 201 seats), but suffered a serious retreat of 6 percentage points; the PCF went towards a real collapse, obtaining 9.7% of the votes (with 35 deputies) while, on the right, The success of the extremist formation of the National Front was sensational, which replicated the result of the last cantonal consultations, now presenting itself for the first time in the political elections and obtaining, with 9.6% of the votes, 35 parliamentary seats. On the other hand, the result of the small formations of the extreme left, of the regionalists and ecologists, appeared to be absolutely marginal; not the same as that of other minor right-wing groups which together stood at 3.9% of the votes with 14 deputies in total.
According to THERELIGIONFAQS, Prime Minister Fabius immediately resigned on March 17, and the next day Mitterrand called Chirac to form a new government. Thus the same situation that had arisen in 1981 at the moment of Mitterrand’s success in the presidential elections was re-proposed; only then the newly elected president, taking advantage of the push to the left of public opinion and dissolving the Chambers, had immediately resolved the situation of so-called “ cohabitation ” to the advantage of the PSF to make the political framework so homogeneous, while this time, with the designation of Chirac – who formed a ministry on March 20 with personalities from the RPR and the UDF – Mitterrand, maintaining his office, accepted and made permanent the situation of ” cohabitation ”
On April 2, the government presented itself to the National Assembly, obtaining its confidence in a program that had as its cornerstone the liberalization of the economy (i.e. the dismantling of the system of industries nationalized by the previous socialist-led ministries), the restoration of the majority electoral system. in two rounds, a tighter fight against terrorism: Corsican of independence matrix, far left (from the Action directe group), Islamic of Middle Eastern origin.
The first programmatic point was realized in July 1986 with the approval of a law that allowed the sale to private individuals of 65 large nationalized companies, with the privatization law of the first channel of state television and with a law on the flexibility of hours of work (December of the same year), much opposed by the trade union movement. It is significant that all these measures were in practice hindered by the attitude of Mitterrand who, denying the government the possibility of approval by decree, forced it to go through the longer legislative process of the bill, thus making the full extent of the law evident. irrepressible conflictual limit of ” cohabitation ”. The second programmatic point was also made in July 1986,
The success, also in September, of the center-right deployment in the election for the renewal of a third of the Senate did not foreshadow the explosion of the underground social malaise that was expressing itself with unexpected force in the large student demonstrations at the end of November and December against the university reform, which led to the withdrawal of the government project and the resignation of the undersecretary for higher education and, above all, which took the very exasperated form of the very long strike in rail transport from mid-December to mid-January 1987, a strike that also extended to others public sector sectors.
In foreign policy, the Chirac government did not deviate from the traditional line pursued by France – as we have also seen the socialist-led governments do – if we exclude a more decisive safeguarding of national prestige on the occasion of the crisis that broke out between Paris and Tehran, following the Iranian refusal to hand over a terrorist who took refuge at the embassy in Paris.
This determined (July 1987) the breaking of diplomatic relations between the two countries (restored only in June of the following year) and the sending between July and December 1987, in the context of accentuated Western political pressure towards the regime of Khomeini, of some warships in the Persian Gulf. The question of New Caledonia (with a new referendum law the local population was further called upon to express themselves on the link with France in September 1987) was the cause of a bitter clash between the government and the presidency of the Republic, having previously criticized the use made of the police forces in the archipelago during the electoral campaign, and then also the statute of autonomy, adopted by the National Assembly in November. In reality, far beyond the relevance of the episode, it was the clearest sign of the fact that the policy of ” cohabitation ” had reached an irreversible point of crisis. The presidential elections of spring 1988 were therefore configured as an excellent opportunity for the normalization of the entire political framework. Mitterrand showed all his skill: he knew how to maneuver with shrewdness, announcing his candidacy late and sending a letter “to all the French people” in which he presented himself not as an exponent of the PSF, but as a restorer and guarantor of the unity of the country, as an “arbiter” president. For its part, the center-right alignment failed to express a single candidacy, and Chirac (for the RPR) and Barre (for the leader of the National Front.