Tribute to Michel Rocard
30th anniversary of the Matignon-Oudinot Accords, 1988-2018
The New Caledonia Office des Postes et Télécommunications is issuing this 1,000 XPF stamp, designed by Jean-Jacques Mahuteau and engraved by Pierre Albuisson, as a tribute to Michel Rocard (1930-2016), who played a leading role in France’s Socialist Party, and whose political achievements included the historic signing of the Matignon-Oudinot Accords thirty years ago this year.
Michel Rocard, born on 23 August 1930 in Courbevoie, studied science for a short time before gaining a place at the prestigious Paris Institut d’Etudes Politiques in 1947 and going on to the Ecole National d’Administration in 1956. His opposition to France’s colonial conflicts in Indochina and Algeria quickly led to his involvement in politics, and he joined the Socialist Students movement, affiliated to the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), and acted as their general secretary from 1954 to 1956. He then helped found the Autonomous Socialist Party in 1958 and the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) in 1960.
He acted as Secretary of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) from 1967 to 1974 and was a prominent figure during the May 68 crisis. He ran in the 1969 presidential election (obtaining 3.6% of the vote), and was elected as Deputy for the Yvelines department from 1969 to 1973 and from 1978 to 1981. He also served as Mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine from 1977 to 1994.
After François Mitterrand was elected President in 1981, Rocard held the post of Minister of Territorial Development and Planning (1981 to 1983) and Minister of Agriculture (1983 to 1985). Following Mitterand’s re-election for a second term, Rocard was appointed Prime Minister from 1988 to 1991.
He resigned in 1991 and acted as leader of the Socialist Party (1993-1994), before serving as an MEP (1994-2009) and Senator for the Yvelines department (1995-1997).
Michel Rocard played a very important role in the history of New Caledonia.
In 1988, as clashes between independentist and anti-independence factions reached their climax with the tragic Ouvéa hostage crisis, Michel Rocard, as Prime Minister, led a peace mission to broker a deal between the two sides in the conflict.
Six weeks later, delegations from the independentist FLNKS party and the anti-independence RPCR party met at the Hotel Matignon in Paris for talks overseen by the Prime Minister.
The “Rocard method” proved successful because, following negotiations which lasted from Saturday 25 June to Sunday 26 June, the independentist and anti-independence leaders signed the Matignon-Oudinot Accords laying the foundations for restoring peace in New Caledonia.
Michel Rocard felt a close attachment to New Caledonia, declaring in a June 2013 interview with Télérama magazine: “the Matignon Accords are one of the finest memories of my political life”.
A shared sense of attachment… since 2016, the Pouembout Agricultural and General College has borne the name “Lycée Michel Rocard”.