French socialist politician, prime minister 1992–93. A close ally of François Mitterrand, he was named chief of staff in 1981 after managing the successful presidential campaign. He was social affairs minister 1982–84 and finance minister 1984–86 and 1988–92. He resigned as premier after the socialists' defeat in the March 1993 general election, and shortly afterwards committed suicide.
Bérégovoy's working-class background contrasted sharply with that of the other Socialist Party leaders. As finance minister, he was widely respected by France's financial community. He replaced the unpopular Edith Cresson as prime minister in April 1992. He pledged to reduce unemployment and cut taxes to stimulate economic growth.
Born in Deville-les-Rouen, the son of a Ukrainian immigrant, Bérégovoy had a limited formal education and was largely self-taught. Leaving school at 15, he worked in a textile factory and then on the railways, where he supplemented his education by attending a school organized by the Communist Party. Moving to Gaz de France, Bérégovoy climbed swiftly up the managerial ladder, until in 1981 François Mitterrand recognized his talents and made him secretary general of his personal office. He was also mayor of Nevers 1983–93.
Bérégovoy masterminded Mitterrand's successful 1988 election campaign and expected to be made prime minister but did not attain this office until 1992, when President Mitterrand, concerned about the Socialist Party's poor performance in the March 1992 elections, replaced Edith Cresson with Bérégovoy, hoping he would revive the party's fortunes. To do this within a year was an impossible task; in March 1993, when he realized the extent of the Socialist Party's defeat in the national assembly elections, he became deeply depressed. He blamed himself for the defeat; the now distant attitude of his mentor Mitterrand increased his depression. On 1 May 1993 he took his own life.