There are several ways to tell any tale. Beginning at the beginning means starting with two referenda in 1962 that had profound effects on the subsequent evolution of the French Left. The referendum to approve the Evian Agreements finally closed a conflictual chapter of French political life that had contributed to the Left's division after 1945. Then a controversial constitutional referendum inaugurated direct elections for president of the Republic, and a piece of institutional machinery opened the way for greater collaboration between the Socialists and the Communists. Both referenda contributed to the eventual victory of the Socialist Party.' s presidential candidate in 1981 and 1988. Beginning the story in 1962 leads toward an institutionally driven story of electoral laws and the presidentialism that united and rebalanced the forces of the Left.