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Leftist former French prime minister Mauroy dies

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

PARIS (Reuters) - Former French prime minister Pierre Mauroy, who pushed through a string of worker benefits as the head of modern France's first Socialist government, has died aged 84, the government said on Friday.

Mauroy had been admitted to a hospital in the Paris region last weekend, a year after undergoing surgery for a cancerous tumor in his lung.

As prime minister from 1981 to 1984 under president Francois Mitterrand, Mauroy oversaw reforms to trim the work week to 39 hours from 40, lower the retirement age to 60, give workers a fifth week of paid vacation and raise welfare benefits. The work week was subsequently lowered to 35 hours in 2000.

"We have lost someone who was a pillar of social democracy," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Tokyo, where he was accompanying President Francois Hollande on an official visit.

Elected just over a year ago, Hollande is France's first Socialist president since Mitterrand and is attempting to strike a balance between passing reforms to revitalize the stalled economy and keeping happy left-wingers concerned at austerity.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Catherine Bremer; editing by Mark John)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130607/leftist-former-french-prime-minister-mauroy-dies