But his ideas have long touched a chord among the French, who in the past decade have become less ideological and more fond of compromise. Rocard is a Socialist who prefers pragmatism to ideology and sees more value in markets than in the ideas of Karl Marx. He once called himself a "free-enterprise Socialist."
The Socialist Party, after a disastrous, doctrinaire two years in office at the beginning of Mitterrand's first term, finally came around to his way of thinking. Mitterrand's speeches in the last campaign appeared to reflect, at least in part, many of Rocard's ideas.
Son of a Physicist
Rocard, a member of the small but influential Protestant community in a largely Roman Catholic country, was born in a suburb of Paris in 1930, the son of a physicist who later helped develop France's nuclear bomb.
Like Chirac and Fabius, he is a graduate of the elite National School of Administration that has trained many of the leading politicians and civil servants of France. He worked as an inspector in the Ministry of Finance, often regarded as the most prestigious job in the French civil service, before deciding in the late 1960s to devote himself to politics.