The election of the first socialist president of the Fifth Republic, 20 years ago, had created great concern in certain economic circles and in part of the right-wing electorate.

So much so that some quickly left to put their money away in Switzerland. 

On the evening of May 10, 1981, not all French people believed in the famous slogan "to change life".

If the election of François Mitterrand against Valéry Giscard d'Estaing had caused great scenes of jubilation in the country, the French left celebrating in the streets the accession to power of the first socialist president of the Fifth Republic, among the French on the right, the time was rather for concern, especially in economic circles.

The election had even created an almost movement of flight among business leaders and financial notables.


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Thus, a few hours after the election of François Mitterrand, wealthy - but distraught - French people came out of the banks with suitcases and trash bags filled with banknotes.

Some were driving to Switzerland to put their money away, fearing that François Mitterrand would nationalize everything and confiscate their property.

The fear of communist ministers

At the Swiss border, the customs officers then seized colossal sums, "nearly 9 million francs hidden in three cars", told for example at the time the journalist of Europe 1 Henri de Stadelhofen, describing the various hiding places: " behind the radiator, in the upholstery of the seats, in the wheel trims ".  

The Paris Stock Exchange, it was shaken, with the runaway price of the Swiss franc. Part of the right-wing French also feared the arrival of Communist ministers in government, compared to the Bolsheviks who would land in Paris. But the first government of François Mitterrand will ultimately have no Communist minister.