François Mitterrand was the first president of the Fifth Republic to come to the office after his predecessor had completed the full sevenyear mandate for which he had been elected by universal suffrage. He remains, at present, the only one to have completed two full terms in office, as well as the only one to have been elected on a promise to introduce fundamental changes in the social and economic structure of France. He was the first to be obliged to appoint as prime minister a politician from a party opposed to his own, thus acquiring the merit of showing how flexibly the institutions of the Fifth Republic could be made to work in practice. He thus gave reality to two relatively new words in French political discourse: in 1981, that of alternance; and in 1986, that of cohabitation.