Pierre Mendes-France was born in Paris, France, in 1907. He joined the Radical Party and entered parliament in 1932. An opponent of the Vichy government, he was imprisoned in 1940 but escaped the following year and went to England to join the Free French forces.
In 1945 Mendes-France was appointed Minister for National Economy under Charles De Gaulle. Although the popularity of the Radical Party declined after the war and rarely won much more than 10 per cent of the vote, with other parties unable to obtain a clear majority, the party often played a disproportionately important role in French governments. This enabled Faure to become prime minister in 1954 but was forced to resign the following year over his North African policy.
Mendes-France lost his seat in the 1958 election but returned to the National Assembly in 1967 until retiring due to ill health in 1973. Pierre Mendes-France died in 1982.