Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
22nd President of France
In office
17 May 1995 – 16 May 2007
Prime Minister Alain Juppé
Lionel Jospin
Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Dominique de Villepin
Preceded by François Mitterrand
Succeeded by Nicolas Sarkozy
French Co-Prince of Andorra
In office
17 May 1995 – 16 May 2007
Serving with Joan Martí Alanis
Joan Enric Vives Sicília
Prime Minister Marc Forné Molné
Albert Pintat
Preceded by François Mitterrand
Succeeded by Nicolas Sarkozy
Prime Minister of France
In office
20 March 1986 – 10 May 1988
President François Mitterrand
Preceded by Laurent Fabius
Succeeded by Michel Rocard
In office
27 May 1974 – 26 August 1976
President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Preceded by Pierre Messmer
Succeeded by Raymond Barre
Mayor of Paris
In office
20 March 1977 – 16 May 1995
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Jean Tiberi
Minister of the Interior
In office
27 February 1974 – 28 May 1974
Prime Minister Pierre Messmer
Preceded by Raymond Marcellin
Succeeded by Michel Poniatowski
Personal details
Born Jacques René Chirac
29 November 1932 (1932-11-29) (age 78)
Paris, France
Political party Union for a Popular Movement (2002–present)
Other political
Communist Party (Early 1950s)
Union of Democrats for the Republic (1968–1976)
Rally for the Republic (1976–2002)
Spouse(s) Bernadette de Courcel (m. 1956–present)
Children 2 daughters
Alma mater Paris Institute of Political Studies
National School of Administration
Profession Civil servant
Religion Roman Catholicism

Jacques René Chirac (French pronunciation: [ʒak ʃiʁak]; born 29 November 1932) is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 (making him the only person to hold the position of Prime Minister twice under the Fifth Republic), and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, a term at Harvard University and the École nationale d'administration (ENA), Chirac began his career as a high-level civil servant, and soon entered politics. He subsequently occupied various senior positions, including Minister of Agriculture, Minister of the Interior, Prime Minister, Mayor of Paris, and finally President of the French Republic.

Chirac's internal policies included lower tax rates, the removal of price controls, strong punishment for crime and terrorism, and business privatization.[1] He also argued for more socially responsible economic policies, and was elected in 1995 after campaigning on a platform of healing the "social rift" (fracture sociale).[2] After less statist policy when he was Prime Minister (1986–1988), he changed his method. Then, his economic policies, based on dirigisme, state directed ideals, stood in opposition to the laissez-faire policies of the United Kingdom, which Chirac famously described as "Anglo-Saxon ultraliberalism".[3] Chirac is the second-longest serving President of France (two full terms, the first of seven years and the second of five years), after François Mitterrand. As President, he also served as an ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra and Grand Master of the French Légion d'honneur.

In 2011 he was put on trial for embezzlement trial for misappropriation of public funds using fake jobs paid for by the Paris town hall for full-time workers of his party.


Family and early life

Chirac, born in the Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire clinic (Paris Ve), is the son of Abel François Chirac (1893–1968), a successful executive for an aircraft company,[2] and Marie-Louise Valette (1902–1973), a housewife. His great grandparents on both sides were peasants, but his two grandfathers were teachers from Sainte-Féréole in Corrèze. According to Chirac, his name "originates from the langue d'oc, that of the troubadours, therefore that of poetry". He is a Roman Catholic.

Chirac was an only child (his elder sister, Jacqueline, died in infancy before his birth), and was educated in Paris at the Lycée Carnot and at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. After his baccalauréat, he served for three months as a sailor on a coal-transporter.[citation needed]

Chirac played rugby union for Brive's youth team, and also played at university level. He played no. 8 and second row.[4]

In 1956, he married Bernadette Chodron de Courcel, with whom he had two daughters: Laurence (born 4 March 1958) and Claude (14 January 1962). Claude has long worked as a public relations assistant and personal adviser,[5] while Laurence, who suffered from anorexia nervosa in her youth, does not participate in the political activities of her father.[6] Chirac is the grandfather of Martin Rey-Chirac by the relationship of Claude with French judoka Thierry Rey. Jacques and Bernadette Chirac have also a foster daughter, Anh Dao Traxel.

Early political career (1950s–1973)

Chirac (right) in the 1960s

Inspired by General Charles de Gaulle, Chirac started to pursue a civil service career in the 1950s. During this period, he joined the French Communist Party, sold copies of L'Humanité, and took part in meetings of a communist cell.[7] In 1950, he signed the Soviet-inspired Stockholm Appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons – which led him to be questioned when he applied for his first visa to the United States.[8] In 1953, after graduating from "Sciences Po", he attended Harvard University's summer school before entering the ENA, the Grande école which trains France's top civil servants, in 1957.

Chirac trained as a reserve officer in armoured cavalry at Saumur, where he was ranked first among his year.[9] He then volunteered to fight in the Algerian War, to be sent there despite the reservations of his superiors using personal connections. His superiors did not want to make him an officer due to suspicions of his Communism.[10]

After leaving ENA in 1959, he became a civil servant in the Court of Auditors. In April 1962, Chirac was appointed head of the personal staff of Prime Minister Georges Pompidou. This appointment launched Chirac's political career. Pompidou considered Chirac his protégé and referred to him as "my bulldozer" for his skill at getting things done. The nickname "Le Bulldozer" caught on in French political circles. Chirac still maintains this reputation. In 1995 an anonymous British diplomat said Chirac "cuts through the crap and comes straight to the point...It's refreshing, although you have to put your seat belt on when you work with him".[citation needed] At Pompidou's suggestion, Chirac ran as a Gaullist for a seat in the National Assembly in 1967. He was elected deputy for his home Corrèze département, a stronghold of the left. This surprising victory in the context of a Gaullist ebb permitted him to enter the government as Minister of Social Affairs. Although Chirac was well-situated in de Gaulle's entourage, being related by marriage to the general's sole companion at the time of the Appeal of 18 June 1940, he was more of a "Pompidolian" than a "Gaullist".

When student and worker unrest rocked France in May 1968, Chirac played a central role in negotiating a truce. Then, as state secretary of economy (1968–1971), he had worked closely with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who headed the ministry of economy and finance. After some months in the ministry of relations with Parliament, Chirac's first high-level post came in 1972 when he became Minister of Agriculture and rural development under Pompidou, elected president in 1969. Chirac quickly earned a reputation as a champion of French farmers' interests, and first attracted international attention when he assailed U.S., West German, and European Commission agricultural policies which conflicted with French interests. On 27 February 1974, after the resignation of Raymond Marcellin, Chirac was appointed Minister of the Interior. On 21 March 1974, he cancelled the SAFARI project due to privacy concerns after its existence was revealed by Le Monde. From March 1974, he was entrusted by President Pompidou with preparations for the presidential election then scheduled for 1976. However, these elections were brought forward because of Pompidou's sudden death on 2 April.

Chirac was behind the vain attempt to rally Gaullists behind Prime minister Pierre Messmer. Jacques Chaban-Delmas announced his candidacy in spite of the disapproval of the "Pompidolians". Chirac and others published the call of the 43 in favor of Giscard d'Estaing, the leader of the non-Gaullist part of the parliamentary majority. Giscard d'Estaing was elected as Pompidou's successor after France's most competitive election campaign in years. In return, the new president chose Chirac to lead the cabinet.

Prime Minister (1974–1976)

When Giscard became president, he nominated Chirac as prime minister on 27 May 1974 in order to reconcile the "Giscardian" and "non-Giscardian" factions of the parliamentary majority. At the age of 41, Chirac stood out as the very model of the jeunes loups ("young wolves") of French political life, but he faced with the hostility of the "Barons of Gaullism" who considered him a traitor for his role during the previous presidential campaign. In December 1974, he took the lead of the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR) against the will of its more senior personalities.

As prime minister, Chirac quickly set about persuading the Gaullists that, despite the social reforms proposed by President Giscard, the basic tenets of Gaullism, such as national and European independence, would be retained. Chirac was advised by Pierre Juillet and Marie-France Garaud, two former advisers of Pompidou. These two organised the campaign against Chaban-Delmas in 1974. They advocated a clash with Giscard d'Estaing because they thought his policy bewildered the conservative electorate. Citing Giscard's unwillingness to give him authority, Chirac resigned as Prime Minister in 1976. He proceeded to build up his political base among France's several conservative parties, with a goal of reconstituting the Gaullist UDR into a neo-Gaullist group, the Rally for the Republic (RPR).

Osirak controversy

At the invitation of Saddam Hussein (then vice-president of Iraq, but de facto dictator), Chirac made an official visit to Baghdad in 1975. Saddam approved a deal granting French oil companies a number of privileges plus a 23 per cent share of Iraqi oil.[11] As part of this deal, France sold Iraq the Osirak MTR nuclear reactor, a type designed to test nuclear materials.

The Israeli Air Force alleged that the reactor's imminent commissioning was a threat to its security, and pre-emptively bombed the Osirak reactor on 7 June 1981, provoking considerable anger from French officials and the United Nations Security Council.[12]

The Osirak deal became a controversy again in 2002–2003, when an international military coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq and forcibly removed Hussein's government from power. France led several other European countries in an effort to prevent the invasion. The Osirak deal was then used by parts of the American media to criticize the Chirac-led opposition to starting a war in Iraq,[13] despite French involvement in the Gulf War.[14]

Mayor of Paris (1977–1995)

After his departure from the cabinet, Chirac wanted to take the leadership over the right in order to gain the presidency. The RPR was conceived as an electoral machine against President Giscard d'Estaing. Paradoxically, Chirac benefited from Giscard's decision to create the office of mayor in Paris, which had been in abeyance since the 1871 Commune, because the leaders of the Third Republic (1871–1940) feared that having municipal control of the capital would give the mayor too much power. In 1977, Chirac stood as candidate against Michel d'Ornano, a close friend of the president, and he won. As mayor of Paris, Chirac's political influence grew. He held this post until 1995.

Chirac supporters point out that, as mayor, he provided programs to help the elderly, people with disabilities, and single mothers, and introduced the street-cleaning Motocrotte,[15] while providing incentives for businesses to stay in Paris. His opponents contend that he installed "clientelist" policies.

Chirac has been named in several cases of alleged corruption that occurred during his term as mayor, some of which have led to felony convictions of some politicians and aides. However, a controversial judicial decision in 1999 granted Chirac immunity while he was president of France. He refused to testify on these matters, arguing that it would be incompatible with his presidential functions. Investigations concerning the running of Paris's city hall, the number of whose municipal employees jumped by 25% from 1977 to 1995 (with 2000 out of approximatively 35000 coming from the Corrèze region where Chirac held his seat as deputy), as well as a lack of transparency concerning accounts of public tendering (marchés publics) or of the communal debt, were thwarted by the legal impossibility of questioning him as president. The conditions of the privatisation of the Parisian water network, acquired very cheaply by the Générale and the Lyonnaise des Eaux, then directed by Jérôme Monod, a close friend of Chirac, were also criticised. Furthermore, the satirical newspaper Le Canard enchaîné revealed the high amount of "food expenses" paid by the Parisian municipality (€15 million a year according to the Canard), expenses managed by Roger Romani (who allegedly destroyed all archives of the period 1978–1993 during night raids in 1999–2000). Thousands of people were invited each year to receptions in the Paris city hall, while many political, media and artistic personalities were hosted in private flats owned by the city.[16]

Chirac's immunity from prosecution ended when he left office in November 2007, when a preliminary charge of misuse of public funds was filed against him.[17] Chirac is said to be the first former French head of state to be formally placed under investigation for a crime.[18] On 30 October 2009, a judge ordered Chirac to stand trial on embezzlement charges dating back to his time as mayor of Paris.[19]

Struggle for the right-wing leadership

In 1978, he attacked the pro-European policy of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (VGE), and made a nationalist turn with the December 1978 Call of Cochin, initiated by his counsellors Marie-France Garaud and Pierre Juillet, which had first been called by Pompidou. Hospitalised in Cochin hospital after a crash, he then declared that "as always about the drooping of France, the pro-foreign party acts with its peaceable and reassuring voice". Furthermore, he appointed Ivan Blot, an intellectual who would join later, for some time, the National Front, as director of his campaigns for the 1979 European election.[20] After the poor results of the election, Chirac broke with Garaud and Juillet. Nevertheless, the already-established rivalry with Giscard d'Estaing became even more intense. Although it has been often interpreted by historians as the struggle between two rival French right-wing families, the Bonapartists, represented by Chirac, and the Orleanists, represented by VGE, both figures in fact were members of the Liberal, Orleanist tradition, according to historian Alain-Gérard Slama.[20] But the eviction of the Gaullist Barons and of President VGE convinced Chirac to assume a strong neo-Gaullist stance.

Chirac made his first run for president against Giscard d'Estaing in the 1981 election, thus splitting the centre-right vote. He was eliminated in the first round (18%) then, he reluctantly supported Giscard in the second round. He refused to give instructions to the RPR voters but said that he supported the incumbent president "in a private capacity", which was almost like a de facto support of the Socialist Party's (PS) candidate, François Mitterrand, who was elected by a broad majority.

Giscard has always blamed Chirac for his defeat. He was told by Mitterrand, before his death, that the latter had dined with Chirac before the election. Chirac told the Socialist candidate that he wanted to "get rid of Giscard". In his memoirs, Giscard wrote that between the two rounds, he phoned the RPR headquarters. He passed himself off as a right-wing voter by changing his voice. The RPR employee advised him "certainly do not vote Giscard!". After 1981, the relationship between the two men became somewhat tense, with Giscard, even though he was in the same government coalition as Chirac, taking opportunities to criticise Chirac's actions.

After the May 1981 presidential election, the right also lost the subsequent legislative election that year. However, as Giscard had been knocked out, Chirac appeared as the principal leader of the right-wing opposition. Due to his attacks against the economic policy of the Socialist government, he progressively aligned himself with prevailing economic liberal opinion, even if this did not correspond with the Gaullist doctrine. While the far-right National Front grew, taking in particular advantage of a proportional representation electoral law, he signed an electoral platform with the Giscardian (and more or less Christian Democrat) party Union for French Democracy (UDF).

First "cohabitation" (1986–1988) and "desert crossing"

Chirac during his second term as Prime Minister

When the RPR/UDF right-wing coalition won a slight majority in the National Assembly in the 1986 election, Mitterrand (PS) appointed Chirac prime minister (though many in Mitterrand's inner circle lobbied him to choose Jacques Chaban-Delmas instead). This unprecedented power-sharing arrangement, known as cohabitation, gave Chirac the lead in domestic affairs. However, it is generally conceded that Mitterrand used the areas granted to the President of the Republic, or "reserved domains" of the Presidency, defence and foreign affairs, to belittle his Prime Minister.

Chirac's second ministry

(20 March 1986 – 12 May 1988)

  • Jacques Chirac – Prime Minister
  • Jean-Bernard Raimond – Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • André Giraud – Minister of Defence
  • Charles Pasqua – Minister of the Interior
  • Édouard Balladur – Minister of Economy, Finance, and Privatization
  • Alain Madelin – Minister of Industry, Tourism, Posts, and Telecommunications
  • Philippe Séguin – Minister of Employment and Social Affairs
  • Albin Chalandon – Minister of Justice
  • René Monory – Minister of National Education
  • François Léotard – Minister of Culture and Communications
  • François Guillaume – Minister of Agriculture
  • Bernard Pons – Minister of Overseas Departments and Territories
  • Pierre Méhaignerie – Minister of Housing, Equipment, Regional Planning, and Transport
  • André Rossinot – Minister of Relations with Parliament
  • Michel Aurillac – Minister of Cooperation

Chirac's cabinet sold a lot of public companies, renewing with the liberalization initiated under Laurent Fabius's Socialist government (1984–86 – in particular with Fabius' privatization of the audiovisual sector, leading to the creation of Canal +), and abolished the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF), a symbolic tax on very high resources decided by Mitterrand's government. Elsewhere, the plan for university reform (plan Devaquet) caused a crisis in 1986 when a young man named Malik Oussekine (1964–1986) was killed by the police, leading to huge demonstrations and the proposal's withdrawal. It has been said during other student crises that this event strongly affected Jacques Chirac, hereafter careful about possible police violence during such demonstrations (i.e. maybe explaining part of the decision to "promulgate without applying" the First Employment Contract (CPE) after large student demonstrations against it).

One of his first acts concerning foreign policies was to call back to affairs Jacques Foccart (1913–1997), who had been de Gaulle's and his successors' leading counsellor for African matters, called by journalist Stephen Smith the "father of all "networks" on the continent, at the time [in 1986] aged 72."[21] Jacques Foccart, who had also co-founded the Gaullist Service d'Action Civique (SAC, dissolved by Mitterrand in 1982) along with Charles Pasqua, and who was a key component of the "Françafrique" system, was again called to the Elysée Palace when Chirac won the 1995 presidential election. Furthermore, confronted by anti-colonialist movements in New Caledonia, Prime minister Chirac ordered a military intervention against the separatists in the Ouvéa cave, leading to several tragic deaths. He allegedly refused any alliance with Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National.[22]

1988 presidential elections and afterwards

Chirac sought the presidency and ran against Mitterrand for a second time in the 1988 election. He obtained 20 percent of the vote in the first round, but lost the second with only 46 percent. He resigned from the cabinet and the right lost the next legislative election.

For the first time, his leadership over the RPR was challenged. Charles Pasqua and Philippe Séguin criticised his abandonment of Gaullist doctrines. On the right, a new generation of politicians, the "renovation men", accused Chirac and Giscard of being responsible for the electoral defeats. In 1992, convinced a man could not became President whilst advocating anti-European policies, he called for a "yes" vote in the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, against the opinion of Pasqua, Séguin and a majority of the RPR voters, who chose to vote "no".

While he still was mayor of Paris (since 1977), Chirac went to Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) where he supported President Houphouët-Boigny (1960–1993), although the latter was being called a "thief" by the local population. Chirac then declared that multipartism was a "kind of luxury."[21]

Nevertheless, the right won the 1993 legislative election. Chirac announced that he did not want to come back as prime minister, suggesting the appointment of Edouard Balladur, who had promised that he would not run for the presidency against Chirac in 1995. However, benefiting from positive polls, Balladur decided to be a presidential candidate, with the support of a majority of right-wing politicians. Chirac broke at that time with a number of friends and allies, including Charles Pasqua, Nicolas Sarkozy, etc., who supported Balladur's candidacy. A small group of "fidels" would remain with him, including Alain Juppé and Jean-Louis Debré. When Nicolas Sarkozy became President in 2007, Juppé was one of the few "chiraquiens" to serve in François Fillon's government.

First term as President (1995–2002)

Chirac with Bill Clinton outside the Élysée Palace in Paris, June 1999

During the 1995 presidential campaign, Chirac criticised the "sole thought" (pensée unique) of neoliberalism represented by his challenger on the right and promised to reduce the "social fracture", placing himself more to the center and thus forcing Balladur to radicalise himself. Ultimately, he obtained more votes than Balladur in the first round (20.8 percent), and then defeated the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the second round (52.6 percent).

Chirac was elected on a platform of tax cuts and job programs, but his policies did little to ease the labor strikes during his first months in office. On the domestic front, neo-liberal economic austerity measures introduced by Chirac and his conservative prime minister Alain Juppé, including budgetary cutbacks, proved highly unpopular. At about the same time, it became apparent that Juppé and others had obtained preferential conditions for public housing, as well as other perks. At the year's end Chirac faced major workers' strikes which turned itself, in November–December 1995, into a general strike, one of the largest since May 1968. The demonstrations were largely pitted against Juppé's plan on the reform of pensions, and led to the dismissal of the latter.

Shortly after taking office, Chirac – undaunted by international protests by environmental groups – insisted upon the resumption of nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia in 1995, a few months before signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.[23] Reacting to criticism, Chirac said, "You only have to look back at 1935...There were people then who were against France arming itself, and look what happened." On 1 February 1996, Chirac announced that France had ended "once and for all" its nuclear testing, intending to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Elected as President of the Republic, he refused to discuss the existence of French military bases in Africa, despite requests by the Ministry of Defense and the Quai d'Orsay (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).[21] The French Army thus remained in Côte d'Ivoire as well as in Omar Bongo's Gabon.

Chirac with German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
Chirac with then-Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2001
Chirac and George W. Bush during the 27th G8 summit, 21 July 2001.

In 1997, Chirac dissolved parliament for early legislative elections in a gamble designed to bolster support for his conservative economic program. But instead, it created an uproar, and his power was weakened by the subsequent backlash. The Socialist Party (PS), joined by other parties on the left, soundly defeated Chirac's conservative allies, forcing Chirac into a new period of cohabitation with Jospin as prime minister (1997–2002), which lasted five years.

Cohabitation significantly weakened the power of Chirac's presidency. The French president, by a constitutional convention, only controls foreign and military policy— and even then, allocation of funding is under the control of Parliament and under the significant influence of the prime minister. Short of dissolving parliament and calling for new elections, the president was left with little power to influence public policy regarding crime, the economy, and public services. Chirac seized the occasion to periodically criticise Jospin's government.

Nevertheless, his position was weakened by scandals about the financing of RPR by Paris municipality. In 2001, the left, represented by Bertrand Delanoë (PS), won over the majority in the town council of the capital. Jean Tiberi, Chirac's successor at the Paris townhall, was forced to resign after having been put under investigations in June 1999 on charges of trafic d'influences in the HLMs of Paris affairs (related to the illegal financing of the RPR). Tiberi was finally expelled from the RPR, Chirac's party, on 12 October 2000, declaring to the Figaro magazine on 18 November 2000: "Jacques Chirac is not my friend anymore".[24] After the publication of the Méry video-tape by Le Monde on 22 September 2000, in which Jean-Claude Méry, in charge of the RPR's financing, directly accused Chirac of organizing the network, and of having been physically present on 5 October 1986, when Méry gave in cash 5 millions Francs, which came from companies who had benefited from state deals, to Michel Roussin, personal secretary (directeur de cabinet) of Chirac,[25][26] Chirac refused to follow up his summons by judge Eric Halphen, and the highest echelons of the French justice declared that he could not been inculpated while in functions.

During his two terms, he increased the Elysee Palace's total budget by 105 percent (currently €90 million, whereas 20 years ago it was the equivalent of €43.7 million). He doubled the number of presidential cars – nowadays there are 61 cars and seven scooters in the Palace's garage. He has hired 145 extra employees – the total number of the people he employed simultaneously was 963.

Defense policy

As the Supreme Commander of the French armed forces, he has reduced the French military budget, as did his predecessor. It now accounts for three percent of GDP.[27] In 1998 the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau (R98) was decommissioned after 37 years of service, and another aircraft carrier was decommissioned two years later after 37 years of service, leaving the French Navy with no aircraft carrier until 2001, when Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was commissioned.[28] He has also reduced expenditures on nuclear weapons[29] and the French nuclear arsenal now includes 350 warheads, which can be compared to the Russian nuclear arsenal that consists of 16,000 warheads.[30] He has also published a plan which assumes reducing the number of fighters the French military has by 30.[31]

Second term as president (2002–2007)

At the age of 69, Chirac faced his fourth presidential campaign in 2002. He received just 20% of the vote in the first ballot of the presidential elections in April 2002. It had been expected that he would face incumbent prime minister Lionel Jospin (PS) in the second round of elections; instead, Chirac faced controversial far right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of National Front (FN) who came in 200,000 votes ahead of Jospin. All parties outside the National Front (except for Lutte ouvrière) called for opposing Le Pen, even if it meant voting for Chirac. The 14-day period between the two rounds of voting was marked by demonstrations against Le Pen and slogans such as "Vote for the crook, not for the fascist" or "Vote with a clothespin on your nose". Chirac won re-election by a landslide, with 82 percent of the vote on the second ballot. However, Chirac became increasingly unpopular during his second term. According to a July 2005 poll,[32] 32 percent judged Chirac favorably and 63 percent unfavorably. In 2006, The Economist wrote that Chirac "is the most unpopular occupant of the Elysée Palace in the fifth republic's history."[33]

Early term

As the left-wing Socialist Party was in thorough disarray following Jospin's defeat, Chirac reorganised politics on the right, establishing a new party – initially called the Union of the Presidential Majority, then the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). The RPR had broken down; A number of members had formed Eurosceptic breakaways. While the Giscardian liberals of the Union of French Democracy (UDF) had moved to the right.[34] The UMP won the parliamentary elections that followed the presidential poll with ease.

During an official visit to Madagascar on 21 July 2005, Chirac described the repression of the 1947 Malagasy uprising, which left between 80,000 and 90,000 dead, as "unacceptable".

Despite past opposition to state intervention the Chirac government approved a 2.8 billion euro aid package to troubled manufacturing giant Alstom.[35] In October 2004, Chirac signed a trade agreement with PRC President Hu Jintao where Alstom was given one billion euro in contracts and promises of future investment in China.[36]

Assassination attempt

On 14 July 2002, during Bastille Day celebrations, Chirac survived an assassination attempt by a lone gunman with a rifle hidden in a guitar case. The would-be assassin fired a shot toward the presidential motorcade, before being overpowered by bystanders.[37] The gunman, Maxime Brunerie, underwent psychiatric testing; the violent far-right group with which he was associated, Unité Radicale, was then administratively dissolved.


In early September 2005, he suffered an event that his doctors described as a 'vascular incident'. It was reported as a 'minor stroke'[38] or a mini-stroke (also known as a Transient ischemic attack).[39] He recovered and returned to his duties soon after.

2005 referendum on the TCE

On 29 May 2005, a referendum was held in France to decide whether the country should ratify the proposed treaty for a Constitution of the European Union (TCE). The result was a victory for the No campaign, with 55 percent of voters rejecting the treaty on a turnout of 69 percent, dealing a devastating blow to Chirac and the UMP party, as well as to part of the center-left which had supported the TCE.

Foreign policy

Along with Vladimir Putin (Chirac called Vladimir Putin "a personal friend".[40]), Hu Jintao, and Gerhard Schröder, Chirac emerged as a leading voice against the Bush administration's conduct towards Iraq. Despite intense US pressure, Chirac threatened to veto, at that given point, a resolution in the UN Security Council that would authorise the use of military force to rid Iraq of alleged weapons of mass destruction, and rallied other governments to his position. "Iraq today does not represent an immediate threat that justifies an immediate war", Chirac said on 18 March 2003. Chirac was then the target of various American and British commentators supporting the decisions of Bush and Tony Blair. Future Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin acquired much of his popularity for his speech against the war at the United Nations (UN). However, following controversies concerning the CIA's black sites and extraordinary rendition program, the press revealed that French special services had cooperated with Washington at the same time that Villepin was countering US foreign policy at the UN headquarters in New York.

After Togo's leader Gnassingbé Eyadéma's death on 5 February 2005, Chirac gave him tribute and supported his son, Faure Gnassingbé, who has since succeeded to his father.[21]

On 19 January 2006, Chirac said that France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. He said his country's nuclear arsenal had been reconfigured to include the ability to make a tactical strike in retaliation for terrorism.[41]

In July 2006, the G8 met to discuss international energy concerns. Despite the rising awareness of global warming issues, the G8 focuses on "energy security" issues. Chirac continues to be the voice within the G8 summit meetings to support international action to curb global warming and climate change concerns. Chirac warns that "humanity is dancing on a volcano" and calls for serious action by the world's leading industrialised nations.[42]

2005 civil unrest and CPE protests

Following major student protests in spring 2006, which followed civil unrest in autumn 2005 after the death of two young boys in Clichy-sous-Bois, one of the poorest French commune located in Paris' suburbs, Chirac retracted the proposed First Employment Contract (CPE) by "promulgating [it] without applying it", an unheard-of – and, some claim, illegal – move destined to appease the protests while giving the appearance not to retract himself, and therefore to continue his support towards his Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Flight Tax

Chirac requested the Landau-report (published in September 2004) and combined with the Report of the Technical Group on Innovative Financing Mechanisms formulated upon request by the Heads of State of Brazil, Chile, France and Spain (issued in December 2004), these documents present various opportunities for innovative financing mechanisms while equally stressing the advantages (stability and predictability) of tax-based models. UNITAID project was born. Today the organization executive board is chaired by Philippe Douste-Blazy.

The Clearstream affair

During April and May 2006, Chirac's administration was beset by a crisis as his chosen Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, was accused of asking Philippe Rondot, a top level French spy, for a secret investigation into the latter's chief political rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2004. This matter has been called the second Clearstream Affair. On 10 May 2006, following a Cabinet meeting, Chirac made a rare television appearance to try to protect Villepin from the scandal and to debunk allegations that Chirac himself had set up a Japanese bank account containing 300 million francs in 1992 as Mayor of Paris.[43] Chirac said that "The Republic is not a dictatorship of rumors, a dictatorship of calumny."[44]

Announcement of intention not to seek a third term

In a pre-recorded television broadcast aired on 11 March 2007, Jacques Chirac announced, in a widely predicted move, that he would not choose to seek a third term as France's President. "My whole life has been committed to serving France, and serving peace", Chirac said, adding that he would find new ways to serve France after leaving office. He did not explain the reasons for his decision.[45] Chirac did not, during the broadcast, endorse any of the candidates running for election, but did devote several minutes of his talk to a plea against extremist politics that was considered a thinly disguised invocation to voters not to vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen and a recommendation to Nicolas Sarkozy not to orient his campaign so as to include themes traditionally associated with Le Pen.[46]

Controversy over hijab

French President Jacques Chirac declared his complete rejection of the wearing of the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, by female Muslims in French schools and public corporations. He adds that he perceives a kind of hostility in the wearing of the hijab. Chirac stated that with banning the hijab, there will be more integration in French society. He has contributed in establishing a law that prohibits wearing the hijab and other religious symbols and manifestations in schools and public corporations. This has created a great controversy in France as some Muslims believe they are being discriminated against.[47]

Life after presidency

Shortly after leaving office, he founded the Jacques Chirac Foundation for Sustainable Development and Cultural Dialogue.[48]

After his presidency ended, Chirac became a lifetime member of the Constitutional Council of France. He sat for the first time in the Council on 15 November 2007, six months after leaving the French Presidency. Immediately after Sarkozy's victory, Chirac moved into a 180 square meters duplex on the Quai Voltaire in Paris lent to him by the family of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. During the Didier Schuller affair, the latter accused Hariri of having participated to the illegal funding of the RPR's political campaigns, but the justice closed the case without further investigations.[49]

On 11 April 2008, Chirac's office announced that he had undergone successful surgery to fit a pacemaker. In January 2009, it was reported that Chirac had been hospitalized after being attacked by his pet Maltese poodle. According to Chirac's wife Bernadette, the dog, named Sumo, had a history of unpredictable and vicious behavior, and had previously been medicated with antidepressants in an attempt to control it.[50]

Embezzlement trial

On 7 March 2011, he went on trial for charges of corruption, the first former French head of state to stand trial since Philippe Petain, involving the misuse of public money during his time as mayor of Paris.[51] He was accused of paying cronies and political allies for 28 jobs that did not exist.[51][52] Along with Chirac, nine other people were also to stand trial, as two separate cases were involved, one dealing with jobs for 21 people and the other with jobs for the remaining seven.[51]

It is possible, however, that the trial could be delayed for up to six months; on 8 March the presiding judge is scheduled to determine whether the charges breach France's statute of limitations regarding financial matters such as those Chirac was charged with.[52] If it is determined that the case does breach these limitations, it would be referred to the Constitutional Council of France.[52]

As a former President, he is entitled to a lifetime pension and personal security protection.

Memoirs and popularity

In Volume 2 of his memoirs published in June 2011, Chirac mocked his successor Nicholas Sarkozy as a "irritable, rash, impetuous, disloyal, ungrateful, and un-French".[53][54] Chirac wrote he considered firing Sarkozy before, and conceded responsibility in allowing Jean Marie Le Pen to advance in 2002.[55]

A poll conducted in 2010 suggested he was the most admired political figure in France, while Sarkozy was 32nd.[53]

In culture

Impact on French popular culture

Because of Jacques Chirac's long career in visible government position, he has often been parodied or caricatured: Young Jacques Chirac is the basis of a young, dashing bureaucrat character in the Asterix comic strip album Obelix and Co., proposing methods to quell Gallic unrest to elderly, old-style Roman politicians. Chirac was also featured in Le Bêbête Show as an overexcited, jumpy character.

Jacques Chirac is one favorite character of Les Guignols de l'Info, a satiric latex puppet show. He was once portrayed as a rather likeable, though overexcited, character; however, following the corruption allegations, he has been shown as a kind of dilettante and incompetent who pilfers public money and lies through his teeth. His character for a while developed a superhero alter ego, Super Menteur ("Super Liar") in order to get him out of embarrassing situations. Because of his alleged improprieties, he was lambasted in a song Chirac en prison ("Chirac in jail") by French punk band Les Wampas, with a video clip made by the Guignols.

Portrayals in film

His role is played by Charles Fathy in the Oliver Stone film W.

Political career

President of the French Republic : 1995–2007. Reelected in 2002.

Member of the Constitutional Council of France : Since 2007.

Governmental functions

Prime minister : 1974–1976 (Resignation) / 1986–1988.

Minister of Interior : March–May 1974.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development : 1972–1974.

Minister of Relation with Parliament : 1971–1972.

Secretary of State for Economy and Finance : 1968–1971.

Secretary of State for Social Affairs : 1967–1968.

Electoral mandates

European Parliament

Member of European Parliament : 1979–1980 (Resignation). Elected in 1979.

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Corrèze : March–April 1967 (Became Secretary of State in April 1967) Reelected in 1968, 1973, but he stays minister / 1976–1986 (Became Prime minister in 1986) / 1988–1995 (Resignation, became President of the French Republic in 1995). Elected in 1967, reelected in 1968, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1988, 1993.

General Council

President of the General Council of Corrèze : 1970–1979. Reelected in 1973, 1976.

General councillor of Corrèze : 1968–1988. Reelected in 1970, 1976, 1982.

Municipal Council

Mayor of Paris : 1977–1995 (Resignation, became President of the French Republic in 1995). Reelected in 1983, 1989.

Councillor of Paris : 1977–1995 (Resignation). Reelected in 1983, 1989.

Municipal councillor of Sainte-Féréole : 1965–1977. Reelected in 1971.

Political function

President of the Rally for the Republic : 1976–1994 (Resignation).


Titles from birth to currently

  • Monsieur le Président de la République française (1995–2007)
  • His Excellency The Sovereign Co-Prince of Andorra (1995–2007)

See also


  1. ^ Privatization Is Essential, Chirac Warns Socialists: Resisting Global Currents, France Sticks to Being French, International Herald Tribune
  2. ^ a b "Jacques Chirac President of France from 1995–2007". Bonjourlafrance.net. http://www.bonjourlafrance.net/france-history/jacques-chirac.htm. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  3. ^ Giavazzi, Francesco; Alberto Alesina (2006). The Future of Europe: Reform Or Decline. p. 125. 
  4. ^ Famous Ruggers by Wes Clark and others. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  5. ^ "BBC World Service: "Letter from Paris – John Laurenson on Claude Chirac's crucial but understated electoral role". 21 March 2002". BBC News. 21 March 2002. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/europe/europetoday/letters/020321_jlaurenson.shtml. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Colin Randall, "Chirac's wife tells of anorexic daughter's death wish" Daily Telegraph, 12 July 2004
  7. ^ France 3, 12 November 1993
  8. ^ L'Humanité
  9. ^ Jacques Chirac – Portail du Gouvernement – site du Premier ministre[dead link]
  10. ^ Chirac de A à Z, dictionnaire critique et impertinent, Michel Albin, 2226076646
  11. ^ Taheri, Amir, "The Chirac Doctrine: France’s Iraq-war plan", National Review Online, 4 November 2002
  12. ^ "1981: Israel bombs Baghdad nuclear reactor", On this day – 7 June, BBC News, Retrieved: 5 September 2008
  13. ^ Joshua Glenn, Rebuilding Iraq, Boston Globe, 2 March 2003
  14. ^ "Out of Area or Out of Reach? European Military Support for Operations in Southwest Asia" (PDF). http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/2007/MR629.pdf. Retrieved 13 June 2010. 
  15. ^ Henley, Jon (12 April 2002). "Merde most foul". The Guardian (UK). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/12/worlddispatch.jonhenley. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Jean Guarrigues, professor at the University of Orléans (and author of Les Scandales de la République. De Panama à l'Affaire Elf, Robert Laffon, 2004), "La dérive des affaires" in L'Histoire n°313, October 2006, pp.66–71 (French)
  17. ^ Lichfield, John (22 November 2007). "Chirac faces investigation into 'misuse of public cash'". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/chirac-faces-investigation-into-misuse-of-public-cash-759026.html. Retrieved 6 July 2008. 
  18. ^ "Le dossier judiciaire de Jacques Chirac s'alourdit" (in fr). Capital.fr. 22 February 2008. http://www.capital.fr/Actualite/Default.asp?source=RE&numero=270226&Cat=GEN. Retrieved 6 July 2008. 
  19. ^ "Frances Chirac Ordered to Face Trial". The New York Times. 30 October 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/10/30/world/international-france-chirac.html. Retrieved 30 October 2009. [dead link]
  20. ^ a b Alain-Gérard Slama, "Vous avez dit bonapartiste?" in L'Histoire n°313, October 2006, pp.60–63 (French)
  21. ^ a b c d "Naufrage de la Françafrique – Le président a poursuivi une politique privilégiant les hommes forts au pouvoir.", Stephen Smith in L'Histoire n°313, October 2006 (special issue on Chirac), p.70 (French)
  22. ^ de Quetteville, Harry (25 April 2002). "Chirac labels 'racist' Le Pen as threat to nation's soul". The Age (Australia). http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/04/24/1019441263037.html. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  23. ^ "Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty". Acronym.org.uk. http://www.acronym.org.uk/a09comp.htm. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  24. ^ "Rien ne va plus entre Chirac et Tiberi", Le Figaro, 18 November 2000 (French)
  25. ^ "Un témoignage pour l'histoire", Le Monde, 22 September 2000 (French)
  26. ^ La suite du testament de Jean-Claude Méry, Le Monde, 23 September 2000 (French)
  27. ^ CIA – The World Factbook – Rank Order – Military expenditures – percent of GDP
  28. ^ "Porte-avions Charles de Gaulle". Netmarine.net. http://www.netmarine.net/bat/porteavi/cdg/index.htm. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  29. ^ John Pike. "Nuclear Weapons – France Nuclear Forces". Globalsecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/france/nuke.htm. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  30. ^ John Pike. "Worldwide Nuclear Forces". Globalsecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/summary.htm. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  31. ^ [1][dead link]
  32. ^ "Europe". Bloomberg. 2 June 2005. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000085&sid=aXp5XEjdZ3_k&refer=europe. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  33. ^ "What France needs". The Economist. 26 October 2006. http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8080753. Retrieved 5 August 2007. 
  34. ^ More conservative infighting over links to French far right, Associated Press, Turkish Daily News. 15 Aug 1998[dead link]
  35. ^ Pfanner, Eric (8 August 2003). "France's §2.8 billion aid package unlikely to bring quick fix : Alstom bailout may be long haul". International Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2003/08/08/alstom_1.php. Retrieved 20 April 2010. [dead link]
  36. ^ english@peopledaily.com.cn (10 October 2004). "People's Daily Online – France's Alstom, China ink $1.3b contracts". English.people.com.cn. http://english.people.com.cn/200410/10/eng20041010_159619.html. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  37. ^ Chirac escapes lone gunman's bullet, BBC, 15 July 2002 (English)
  38. ^ Willsher, Kim (4 September 2005). "Minor stroke puts Chirac in hospital but he hangs on to reins of government". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/1497612/Minor-stroke-puts-Chirac-in-hospital-but-he-hangs-on-to-reins-of-government.html. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  39. ^ "Belfast Telegraph". Highbeam.com. 6 September 2005. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-10722229.html. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  40. ^ "Europe's bear problem". The Economist. 25 February 2010. http://www.economist.com/node/15578042. 
  41. ^ Chirac: Nuclear Response to Terrorism Is Possible, The Washington Post, 20 January 2006 (English)
  42. ^ Chirac is Not in Favor of Dancing on Volcanoes, on "CutC02"'s website, 17 July 2006 (English)
  43. ^ French farce, The Times, 11 May 2006 (English)
  44. ^ Caught in deep water: Chirac swims against a tide of scandal, The Times, 11 May 2006 (English)
  45. ^ France's Chirac says he will not run for re-election Associated Press, 11 March 2007. Retrieved: 11 March 2007
  46. ^ Chirac Leaving Stage Admired and Scorned by John Leicester, Associated Press, 11 March 2007. Retrieved: 11 March 2007.
  47. ^ http://www.arabwestreport.info/?q=node/12158 (Arab West Report: Art. 28, Week 50/2003, 10 – 15 December)
  48. ^ "Chirac launches foundation 'to awaken consciences'". AFP. 8 June 2008. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jyHbiQwT8A2VnasPh30A3G8kbt3w. 
  49. ^ Chirac trouve un point de chute à Paris chez la famille Hariri, Libération, 27 April 2007 (French)
  50. ^ Sparks, Ian (21 January 2009). "President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1126136/Former-French-President-Chirac-hospitalised-mauling-clinically-depressed-poodle.html?ITO=1490. 
  51. ^ a b c "France: Jacques Chirac corruption trial opens". BBC News. 7 March 2011. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/5x1Fr7GjO. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  52. ^ a b c "Jacques Chirac trial faces further delays". The Telegraph. 7 March 2011. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/5x1FyQ5W1. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  53. ^ a b "France election 2012: Chirac mocks Sarkozy in memoirs", BBC. June 9, 2011. Accessed June 9, 2011
  54. ^ "'Impetuous, disloyal, and un-French': Chirac attempts coup de grace on Sarkozy", John Lichfield. June 9, 2011. Accessed June 9, 2011
  55. ^ "Jacques Chirac breaks four-year silence on Nicolas Sarkozy to criticise French president", Henry Samuel. The Telegraph. June 9, 2011. Accessed June 9, 2011
  56. ^ "Biography – Website of the Office of the French President". Elysee.fr. http://www.elysee.fr/elysee/elysee.fr/anglais_archives/jacques_chirac/biography/biography.39706.html. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  57. ^ [2][dead link]
  58. ^ Названы лауреаты Государственной премии РФ Kommersant 20 May 2008 (Russian)
  59. ^ From Italian precidency website


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Cointat
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Succeeded by
Raymond Marcellin
Preceded by
Raymond Marcellin
Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Michel Poniatowski
Preceded by
Pierre Messmer
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Raymond Barre
Position established Mayor of Paris
Succeeded by
Jean Tiberi
Preceded by
Laurent Fabius
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Michel Rocard
Preceded by
François Mitterrand
President of France
Succeeded by
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Party political offices
Preceded by
Alexandre Sanguinetti
General Secretary of the Union of Democrats for the Republic
Succeeded by
André Bord
Party created President of Rally for the Republic
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Alain Juppé
Preceded by
Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Presidentital Candidate for Rally for the Republic
1981, 1988, 1995, 2002
Party merged
Regnal titles
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François Mitterrand
Co-Prince of Andorra
Served alongside: Joan Martí Alanis (1995–2003)
Joan Enric Vives Sicília (2003–2007)
Succeeded by
Nicolas Sarkozy
Diplomatic posts
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Chair of the G7
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Chair of the G8
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Order of precedence
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as Former President
French order of precedence
Former President
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as Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development

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Look at other dictionaries:

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