PARIS (Mar. 13)
Pierre Mendes-France, the French-Jewish statesman and former Prime Minister, who has been in political eclipse since 1958, was back strongly in national prominence today, having been elected again to the National Assembly as a result of yesterday’s run-off elections. He defeated his Gaullist opponent in his constituency of Grenoble, and is believed to be in position to play an extremely prominent role in the next Chamber of Deputies.
M. Mendes-France, born in Paris in 1907, the son of a Sephardic clothing manufacturer whose family traced back to the Jews exiled from Portugal in the 16th Century, graduated from the School of Political Science here in 1926, and three years later obtained his doctorate in law from the University of Paris. Practicing law in Normandy, he was elected to the National Assembly in 1932, at the age of 25, becoming the youngest member of the National Assembly. He married Miss Lily Cicurel, a member of a wealthy Egyptian Jewish family in 1933.
Even before he was elected to the National Assembly, he served in the Popular Front Government of Premier Leon Blum — also a Jew — as Under Secretary of State for the Treasury. He was reelected to the National Assembly time and again until 1958, when he was run over by the bandwagon supporting Gen. Charles de Gaulle, and lost again when he tried to come back onto the national scene in 1962. His present election brings him out of eclipse for the first time in nine years. Throughout this period, however, he continued opposing de Gaulle as a lecturer and writer on politics and economics.
Two friends of Israel and the Jewish people in general, for whom many French Jews voted on the Gaullist ticket, were defeated. They are Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville and Armed Forces Minister Pierre Messmer. Jewish circles expressed their hope today that they would be renamed to the next Cabinet under President Charles de Gaulle, who, though weakened, has retained power. In France, a Cabinet member may be chosen outside the ranks of those who are deputies in the National Assembly.