Pierre Mauroy, who as France's first Socialist prime minister after World War II pushed through some of the Socialist Party's most important overhauls, died Friday in a hospital near Paris. He was 84.
His death was announced by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who succeeded Mr. Mauroy as prime minister in 1984. The cause was complications of lung cancer, his family said.
A longtime ally of Francois Mitterrand's, Mr. Mauroy became prime minister when Mitterand became president in 1981, and he promoted a pro-European vision of socialism. He resigned in 1984.
Mr. Mauroy's government carried out changes that transformed the face of French society, including the abolition of the death penalty; the lowering of the retirement age to 60; a reduction in the legal workweek to 39 hours from 40; a fifth week of paid vacation; and an increase in welfare benefits. In 2000 the workweek was shortened still further, to 35 hours.
His policies helped reduce poverty but produced higher inflation and a growing budget deficit, forcing Mitterrand to shift toward a more prudent budget, which Mr. Mauroy also oversaw. He was widely praised for persuading Mitterrand to keep the French franc in the European monetary system.
Mr. Mauroy was also mayor of Lille, near the Belgian border, from 1973 to 2001 and served in both houses of the French legislature, as well as in the European Parliament. He was known for his lyrical speeches in the Senate.
Born on July 5, 1928 in Cartignies, in the industrial north, Mr. Mauroy came from Roman Catholic working-class stock. He joined the Socialists at 17, and in 1966 became general secretary of the French section of the Workers' International, which later became the Socialist Party. He served as Mitterrand's spokesman before Mitterrand was elected president.
Mr. Mauroy led the Socialist Party from 1988 to 1992.