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Jacques Chirac

Chirac was tall, elegant, and outgoing. He had been on the political landscape for decades, as mayor of Paris, French prime minister and leader of his Rally for the Republic Party. Chirac was best-known internationally for his firm opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq and since he left office in 2007, he has become a popular figure in France.

Center-rightist Jacques Chirac had been a potent force in French politics for more than four decades. Inspired by General Charles de Gaulle to enter politics, he was elected in the mid-1960s to the National Assembly from the rural constituency of Correze. He first entered government in 1967 when then-prime minister Georges Pompidou named him a junior minister.

Chirac was prime minister twice, once for two years under president Valery Giscard d'Estaing and then during the presidency of socialist Francois Mitterrand. Those were the uneasy years of the so-called "cohabitation" between a center-left president and a center-right prime minister. That experiment also lasted for two years.

Born on 29 November 1932 in the 5th arrondissement of Paris [from which he will be elected Councillor from 1977 to 1995], the son of François Chirac, a company director, and Marie-Louise, née Valette. Here with his mother, father and grandfather. Grandson of Brive farmers, grandson of teachers, his father was active in the French aviation industry. Married on 16 March 1956 to Mlle Bernadette Chodron de Courcel (two children: Laurence and Claude). Education icnluded Lycée Carnot and Lycée Louis-le-Grand, Paris. Jacques Chirac in his student days was a Graduate of the Paris Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Institute of Political Science), and of the Harvard University Summer School (USA).

After marriage to Bernardette cauldron of Courcel March 17, 1956, Jacques Chirac volunteered and became head of the 3rd Squadron of the 11th Regiment of chasseurs d'Afrique, which departs for the Algeria. The Moroccan border, Jacques Chirac and his men live 29 difficult months, with a succession of military operations, which earned him the Medal of military valor.

Back to Algeria, he joined promotion Vauban of the École nationale d'administration where he auditor at the Court of Auditors in 1959, before exiting, at his request, in Algeria as "administrative reinforcement.

In 1967, at the age of thirty-four, Jacques Chirac was the youngest Minister in the penultimate Government of general de Gaulle. Secretary of State for employment, he played a critical role in the outcome of the agreements of Grenelle, on 25 May 1968.

In the Governments appointed by president Pompidou, he occupied positions of responsibility pertaining to the confidence granted to him by the President of the Republic: Secretary of State for the budget, Minister delegate in charge of relations with the Parliament, Minister of agriculture, Minister of the Interior. 1974 to 1976, he became Prime Minister of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, post which he resigned on August 25, 1976.

On December 5, 1976, he founded the rally for the Republic (RPR). During the 1967 campaign and for nearly 30 years, Jacques Chirac roamed the winding roads of the electoral district of Ussel in all directions. It was a privileged relationship, made of esteem and loyalty with the Corrèze and the Brive.

Chirac was mayor of Paris for 18 years, from 1977 to 1995. On March 20, 1977, Jacques Chirac was elected Mayor of Paris after a drum beating conducted field campaign. He was be elected and re-elected Mayor of Paris until his election as President of the Republic in 1995. During that time, he was tainted by a corruption scandal involving party financing and personal expenses. But he was never charged with any wrongdoing. After the victory in the legislative elections of March 1986, Jacques Chirac was appointed Prime Minister by President François Mitterrand. Throughout this period of cohabitation, Jacques Chirac served the France and the French with a scrupulous respect for the institutions of the Republic.

On his third try at the presidency, he was elected to France's highest office in 1995. Lionel Jospin was the new candidate in 1995. That made a big difference. He was unexpected, he was fresh. He had come at the last minute to the leadership of the Socialist party, with the withdrawal of Jacques Delors. That was something that was new. Jospin lost to Chirac in the 1995 presidential race.

But two years later, he became prime minister, when a leftist coalition unseated Mr. Chirac's conservative government in legislative elections. Since then, President Chirac and Prime Minister Jospin maintained an uneasy, cohabitation government. Jospin was criticized for his cold and distant manner. He was accused of lying about his Trotskyist past. Critics also attacked two landmark policies of his government, a 35-hour work week and plans to give limited self-rule to the island of Corsica.

On 07 May 1995, former prime minister Jacques Chirac was elected president of France, defeating socialist candidate Lionel Jospin with 52.6 percent of the vote. The high rate of unemployment in France was the dominant campaign issue and Chirac has committed himself to new measures to reduce unemployment. The new government was expected to introduce a supplemental mid-year budget in July that will cut payroll taxes paid by employers sharply and increase employment subsidies. These measures probably would be financed by an increase in the VAT. On the issue of European integration, President Chirac was committed to achieving European Monetary Union by 1999, but said he would call a referendum on reforms to the institutional structure of the European Union that are expected to result from the 1996 intergovernmental conference.

Mitterand had opposed strengthening the military capabilities of the Observer forces in Bosnia. He had also opposed rearming the Croats and Bosniacs. The French had a stake in bringing peace to the Balkans, but they did not want US interference or leadership. They also wanted to appear even handed as between the Serbs, the Croats and the Bosniacs. They were not prepared, under Mitterrand, to place the blame on Serbia or Milosevic. The tenets of French policy were that the French were in place in Bosnia as peacekeepers, the peacekeepers were playing a valuable and effective role, and a peacekeeper was not a party to a conflict. This meant that France would oppose the introduction of additional force and arms that risked turning the peacekeepers into combatants. They also believed that peace could only be achieved by putting equal pressure on both the Bosniacs and the Serbs.

Jacques Chirac was ready to take a much more activist position. He was tired of seeing French forces in Bosnia in helpless situations. This was particularly case when these soldiers were being held as hostages or tied to light posts to prevent air strikes. He was no longer willing - and he campaigned on that - to take the insult to the French military that had resulted from a number of incidents with the Bosnian Serbs. His view was that the French weren’t going to stay there and be only a liability as ineffective peacekeepers. If French troops were going to stay, they would have to be able to defend themselves and have sufficient force to influence the situation on the ground.

After the French were kicked out of their former colony, Algeria, in the early 1960's, Charles de Gaulle immediately ordered his subordinates to find a new place where the French Government could continue its nuclear testing program. The French Government decided that the two Pacific atolls of Moruroa and Faugataufa in French Polynesia would be the sites for the French nuclear testing program. The Government of France has now exploded well over 180 nuclear bombs on the under these two atolls in the Pacific. The French have been exploding their nuclear bombs in the Pacific for 30 years.

With the Cold War at an end and the Berlin Wall down, there was a tremendous sense of relief among the leading countries of the world. As a result, a moratorium was called by the leading nuclear powers, including France, in 1992 to suspend nuclear testing altogether.

In June 1995, the newly elected President of France Jacques Chirac, announced that France would explode eight more nuclear bombs--one a month, beginning September 1995 until May 1996. A crisis occurred on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, as a consequence of French President Jacques Chirac's decision for the Government of France to resume testing of nuclear bomb explosions on the Pacific island atolls of Moruroa and Faugataufa.

France's highest court ruled 10 October 2001 that a sitting president was essentially immune from judicial prosecution for actions committed before taking office. The ruling was good news for Chirac, who was implicated in several financial scandals. For many French analysts, the decision by France's Court of Cassation came as no surprise. By ruling that a sitting president could not be pursued by an ordinary court, the country's highest court essentially followed the 1999 conclusion of France's Constitutional Council, an advisory body. Legal analysts said it was likely to end efforts to summon President Jacques Chirac to appear as a witness in ongoing investigations into alleged kickbacks, which supposedly took place when Chirac was mayor of Paris. Mr. Chirac has refused to answer those summons, which have been issued by several judges over the past two years. Chirac was mayor for 18 years, until 1995. But 2002 was an unexciting political season, featuring a disillusioned French public, a constellation of veteran candidates, and two top contenders with seemingly indistinguishable platforms. The combination, made many French completely uninterested in the presidential race. The level of indecision among the electorate was unique, 48-percent of the French are saying they did not know whom they are gong to vote for.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said democracy was about promises made and kept, in pointed reference to allegations that Chirac often changes his political line. Jospin has also defended the five-year record of his leftist coalition government, and vowed to create more jobs, reduce crime, and ensure a modern, sure and strong France. But Jospin's vows do not appear much different than those of his conservative rival, Chirac.

When Front National candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen defeated more the centrist-socialist candidate, Lionel Jospin, and became the alternative to the incumbent President, Jacques Chirac. Chirac appeared to be set for a landslide victory this Sunday when he faces extreme-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose success in qualifying for the presidential run-off sent shivers through the political establishment in France and across Western Europe. A stunned French electorate seemed to be rallying behind Mr. Chirac to make sure Mr. Le Pen does not pull off another surprise.

President Jacques Chirac and Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin bid farewell 24 April 2002 to a five-year, uneasy cohabitation. Mr. Jospin attended his final cabinet meeting before his socialist government tenders its resignation on 06 May 2002. Jospin and his cabinet were still shattered at the prime minister's surprise third place finish in the first round of presidential voting, but his government was also proud of the work they accomplished during his tenure.

Chirac tried to portray himself as the candidate of national unity and sought to reach out to voters of all stripes. He said that, once voters have expressed themselves democratically, the president becomes the president of all the French people, without exception. Chirac's Rally for the Republic Party created the so-called Union for the Presidential Majority, bringing together conservatives behind the president and against far-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, who faced Chirac in second-round voting 05 May 2002. Many French voters supported Mr. Le Pen in the first round because they felt mainstream politicians like Mr. Chirac were out of touch with the issues that matter to them the most, such as rising crime, immigration and political corruption.

After a first term, he was re-elected on April 21, 2002 for a term of 5 years to the second round of balloting with more than 80% of the votes. The reelection gave President Chirac andhis party an electoral mandate, but winning the election required an internal focus in the first half of 2002.

His party also won by a large majority in parliamentary elections. Chirac's right-of-center coalition has won a convincing victory in the first round of the country's parliamentary elections. The center-right, which won 43 percent of the vote, was expected to have a large majority in the National Assembly after run-off elections. The moderate right's success came in part at the expense of the extreme right. The extreme right National Front, whose presidential candidate, Jean Marie Le Pen, finished second in the last election, did much more poorly this time. Though it received 11 percent of the vote, the National Front will have run off candidates in only 37 of the assembly's 577 districts, and it was projected to win no more than two seats.

President Chirac emphasized the central role of the UN Security Council in disarming Iraq — whether disarmament came through an inspections regime or through military force. He proposed an iterative process wherein the UNSC would establishstandards to be met, and would address instances of Iraqi non-compliance. This proposal removed the need for an automatic use of force clause in the UN resolution. At the same time, France never explicitly ruled out UNSC-approved military action.

President Bush gave a spirited defense of his decision to invade Iraq without a UN Security Council resolution on 24 September 2003. But moments later, French President Jacques Chirac stepped to the podium with a blistering attack on Washington. He said the U.S. decision to oust Saddam Hussein had put the United Nations through one of the most severe crises in its history. "No one can claim the right to use force unilaterally or preventively," he stressed.

Chirac expressed regret at the US-led attack on Iraq. The President's sentiments were echoed by other politicians in France, which had pressed for a peaceful solution to the crisis. Chirac criticized the US-led war as being waged without UN authorization. Chirac said he hoped the military operations would be as rapid and cause as few deaths as possible. Either way, he said, the war will carry heavy consequences for the future.

Chirac announced 14 July 2005 new efforts to boost research and technology in France and battle the country's soaring unemployment. Chirac's televised remarks, made during his traditional Bastille Day interview, come at a time when the French leader's popularity ratings are at historic lows. Responding to the questions of two French reporters in the garden of the Elysee Presidential Palace, Chirac offered a vigorous defense of his embattled government and of his own legacy after 10 years as president. He denied he was a weakened leader, after a series of political setbacks in recent weeks, including French voters' rejection of the European constitution in a referendum May 29.

In January 2007 Chirac left open the possibility of seeking a third term in April's presidential elections. Asked about the possibility of running again, Chirac told journalists it was worth considering. French public opinion polls showed most citizens would oppose a third term for the 74-year-old Mr. Chirac. But the French leader has failed to back the candidacy of Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the only announced candidate of the country's ruling conservative party. Sarkozy emerged as the sole nominee after Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie announced last month that she will not run. The main opposition Socialist Party nominated former Family Minister Segolene Royal as its candidate.

Jacques Chirac left office on 17 May 2007, making way for center-right politician Nicholas Sarkozy, who defeated socialist Segolene Royal for France's highest office. Chirac did not stand for a third term.

French leaders, whether neo-Gaullists like Chirac or socialists like Mitterrand, tended to carry the mantle of Gaullism, which was a strong French role in the world, a strong Europe that would stand up to the United States.

In foreign policy, Chirac would best be remembered for his strong opposition to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Relations between Washington and Paris remain tense as a result of the diverging views on Iraq. In the Middle East, Chirac tried to reassert French influence especially in Syria and Lebanon, its former colonies. And in Africa, he attempted to mend relations with its former territories.

One of Chirac's greatest setbacks in the foreign policy realm came in 2005, when he was unable to convince the French to vote in favor of a constitution for Europe. And on the domestic front, throughout his presidency, Chirac was unable to put through major economic and social reforms.

He was, in some ways, a lame duck president ever since the 'no' vote in 2005 on the constitution. And then his government was also dealt a blow when Dominique de Villepin, the prime minister, tried to implement a revision of the labor law and people took to the streets and blocked it.

The French economy, even though it was somewhat sluggish with unemployment tenaciously hovering around 10 percent, made some gains under his presidency. So even though his reputation was been lagging, it had been a pretty impressive run.

Throughout his political life, Chirac took courageous positions. For example, within a few months of his election, he - at long last - acknowledged the responsibility of the French state during World War II in attending to the persecution of the Jewish populace and sought national forgiveness for it. This was a man who refused to go to South Africa under any circumstances so long as apartheid would not be abolished.

While Chirac left the presidency with dismal approval ratings, his popularity has since soared. In a poll earlier this year, he was rated France's most popular politician.

Chef Bernard Vaussion had been cooking for French presidents at the Elysée Palace since 1974. Chirac was a “gourmand , pure and simple”, according to Vaussion, who said the conservative president was keenly interested in farmers and their produce, and chefs and their creations. Vaussion gives the recipe for Chirac’s favourite dish – veal’s head – in his book, although he admits that the president ate so much of the delicacy outside of the Elysée, his cook only actually prepared it for him twice. “I think the veal’s head thing was more of a myth that he rather enjoyed,” Vaussion writes.

On 30 October 11, 2009 a French magistrate ordered Chirac to stand trial on embezzlement charges dating back to the 1990s, when he was mayor of Paris. The order was unprecedented, and followed several other trials targeting former high-level politicians.

Chirac was charged with embezzlement and breach of trust relating to allegations that 35 people were given fake jobs at Paris city hall between 1994 and 1995, when he was mayor. A veteran politician, 76-year-old Chirac served as both Paris mayor and prime minister of France, before becoming president in 1995. He left office in 2007. Although he had been dogged by several scandals, he had so far avoided prosecution.

The judge's order was part of a larger attack on the conservative circle surrounding Chirac. Two of Chirac's former prime ministers, Alain Juppe and Dominique de Villepin, both stood trial on separate charges, while ex-interior minister Charles Pasqua was sentenced to prison in a third trial that ended in November 2009.

Chirac was tried in September 2011 for corruption, relating to the period in the 1990s when he was Mayor of Paris, a judge ruled on Monday. The trial would be the first ever of a former president of France, and it was to take place in Paris from 5 to 23 September. Chirac was accused of embezzling public funds while mayor. He avoided trial in March 2011, when lawyers for one of his co-defendants won a postponement, arguing that certain charges were unconstitutional. But the country's highest appeals court has now rejected that argument, and ruled that the trial can go ahead.

Chirac enjoyed immunity from prosecution as president from 1995 until 2007. On December 14, 2011 Chirac was convicted of corruption. A judge found Chirac guilty of embezzling public funds but suspended his two-year sentence in the landmark case. Chirac was convicted for his role in a scheme that involved inventing fake jobs for members of his party while he was mayor of Paris in the 1990s. Chirac was accused of paying members of his Rally for the Republic political party with city funds by creating bogus municipal jobs for them. He was the first former French head of state to face prosecution in more than 15 years. The 79-year former president, who was not at the trial because of health reasons, was found guilty of misusing public money and abusing his power while mayor of Paris between 1977 to 1995.

Despite a long history of trials of politicians, leading French personalities have generally escaped punishment, leading to accusations of complicity between the justice system and ruling circles. The 79-year-old was the first former president to face charges in court and the verdict was a surprise - even the prosecution had called for him to be cleared.

Chirac died 26 Septmeber 2019 at age 86. His son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux told The Associated Press that Chirac died "peacefully, among his loved ones." He did not give a cause of death, though Chirac had repeated health problems since leaving office in 2007.

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Page last modified: 30-09-2019 13:56:21 ZULU