Jacques Chirac was a collaborator of French Presidents Georges Pompidou in the 1960s and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in the 1970s. He was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995 and Prime Minister in 1974 - 1976 and 1986 - 1988. He ran for President without success in 1981, 1988, and was elected in 1995 and 2002.
His father was a bank clerk and later an executive for an aircraft company. He studied at:
- Lycée Louis-le-Grand (graduated 1950)
- Institut d'Etudes Politiques 1951-1954 (public service and politics)
- Harvard summer school in 1953
- armored cavalry officer academy in Saumur (ranked 1st)
- Ecole Nationale d'Administration in 1959 (elite school for government service; ranked 10th)
Conservative Chirac began politics as a suspected Communist: he signed the Call of Stockholm and sold the Communist daily "l'Humanité". This was later a problem to him when he attended a military officer academy: although his academic merits should have ranked him 1st among the students, the military did not want of a Communist officer and had arranged to rank him last and assign him the rank of private. After he complained, he was given back his proper rank and became an officer. Similarly, he had trouble going to the United States because of McCarthyism.
- Auditor of the French governement's general accounting office (Cour des Comptes) from 1960.
- Joined the staff of Prime Minister George Pompidou in 1962 (undersecretary of state for social affairs).
- Elected to the National Assembly in 1967. In 1968, he played a very important role in negociating a truce in the May 1968 student riots and workers' strikes;
- Secretary of state for the economy and rural development in 1973;
- Agriculture and Rural Development Minister from 1973 to 1974;
- Interior Minister in 1974;
- Prime Minister from 1974 to 1976, and then from 1986 to 1988;
- Mayor of Paris, from 1977 to 1995;
- President of France, since 1995.
Jacques Chirac ran for president in 1981 but was defeated by François Mitterrand. After the elections 1986 of Mitterrand had to share power with right-wing parliament and thus made Chirac his prime minister (Cohabitation). Chirac was defeated again in the presidential election of 1988 (against Mitterrand) but remained mayor of Paris and active in Parliament.
Chirac was finally elected president of France in 1995 but had to spend a lot of time quieting down disillusioned electorate. Unemployment in France remains among the highest in the European Union and strikes are very frequent, more predominantly in the public sector, especially public transportation.
Chirac was also suspected of corruption and of using public money for personal gain when he was mayor of Paris. However, the investigations on his role in those matters were suspended until he ceased to enjoy presidential immunity from prosecution. Those suspicions prompted the satiric show Les Guignols de l'Info to introduce the puppet character of Super Menteur (Super Liar), featuring a rendition of Chirac in a Superman-like costume.
On July 14, 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 towards the presidential motorcade, then was overpowered by bystanders. The gunman, Maxime Brunerie, was later found unfit to stand trial because of mental incapacity; the violent far-right group with which he was associated, Unité Radicale was then administratively dissolved. He had also been candidate for the Mouvement National Républicain party at a local elections.
He opposed any war with Iraq in 2002 and 2003, calling for more time for the UN inspectors. Together with German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Russian president Vladimir Putin, he called for diplomacy instead of war.
His Prime Ministers have been:
|President of France||
See also: French presidential election, 2002