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Jacques Chirac

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Jacques Chirac
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Office: President of France
Term in office: From May 17, 1995
to present
Preceded by: François Mitterrand
Succeeded by: Incumbent
Date of birth: November 29, 1932
Place of birth: Paris
First Lady: Bernadette Chodron de Courcel
Party: UMP (not officially a member)

Jacques René Chirac (born November 29, 1932) is a French politician. (Template:Audio) He was elected President of the French Republic in 1995 and 2002. As President, he is an ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra.

In 1959, after completing studies at the École Nationale d'Administration, Jacques Chirac entered high-level civil service, then soon entered politics. He has since occupied various high-level positions, such as minister of finances, prime minister, mayor of Paris, and finally president of France.

Jacques Chirac's politics are, broadly speaking, conservative and Gaullist. He has generally stood for lower tax rates; the removal of price controls; strong punishments for crime and terrorism; and business privatization. However, he also, at other times, argued for more "social" economic policies and was elected in 1995 after a campaign where he said he would reduce the "social rift" (fracture sociale). On economic policies, he has at various times advocated both laissez-faire and dirigiste positions.

Currently married to Bernadette Chodron de Courcel, Chirac has two daughters, one of whom has long been his public relation assistant and personal advisor (Claude Chirac). He is a Roman Catholic.

Contents

Youth and studies

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Young Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac studied at:

Jacques Chirac was initially attracted towards left-wing causes, leading him to sell the Communist newspaper l'Humanité and to sign the Communist-inspired Stockholm Call against nuclear weapons in 1950. These left-wing ties proved later a hindrance to him, for instance in his first visit to the United States and his military career. Indeed, even though he finished first of his class at the armored cavalry officer academy of Saumur, the military wanted to de-rank him because they did not wish a "Communist" to become an officer. However, Chirac's extensive family acquaintances had him ranked back at the correct position.

After completing officer's school, Jacques Chirac volunteered to be deployed in Algeria (while the Algerian War of Independence was raging), even though his family relations would easily have allowed him to obtain a safe position away from the war. He was wounded during his tour of duty.

Early political career

Inspired by General Charles de Gaulle to enter public life, Chirac continued pursuing civil service in the 1950s. He attended Harvard University's summer School before entering the ENA (the elite, competitive-entrance college that trains France's top civil servants) in 1957.

After earning a graduate degree from the ENA in 1959, he then became a civil servant and rose rapidly through the ranks. In April 1962, only three years after having graduated from the École Nationale d'Administration, Chirac was appointed head of the personal staff of Georges Pompidou, then prime minister under de Gaulle. 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. "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," said an anonymous British diplomat in 1995. [1] (http://www.abcnews.go.com/reference/bios/chirac.html)

At Pompidou's suggestion, Chirac ran as a Gaullist for a seat in the National Assembly in 1967. Chirac won the election and was given a post in the ministry of social affairs. (Gaullists have historically supported a strong central government and independence in foreign policy.) Although more of a "Pompidolian" than a "Gaullist," Chirac was well situated in de Gaulle's entourage, being related by marriage to the general's sole companion at the time of the June 1940 Appel.

Chirac already rose to become economy minister in the late 1960s, serving as department head and a secretary of state. As state secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (1968-1971), he had worked closely with Giscard d'Estaing, who had then headed the ministry. In 1968, when student and worker strikes rocked France (see May 1968), Chirac played a central role in negotiating a truce. The young technocrat from ENA then rose to fame; Chirac was caricatured as the archetypal brilliant ENA graduate in Astérix.

Chirac's first high-level post came in 1972 when he became minister of agriculture and rural development under his mentor Georges Pompidou, who was elected president in 1969. He quickly earned a reputation as a champion of French farmers' interests. As minister of agriculture, Chirac first attracted international attention when he assailed U.S., West German, and European Commission agricultural policies that conflicted with French interests.

In 1974 Chirac was appointed Minister of the Interior. As minister of the interior 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 by Pompidou's sudden death on 2 April. In 1974 former minister of economy and finance Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a non-Gaullist centrist, was elected Pompidou's successor amid France's most competitive election campaign in years.

Prime minister, 1974-76

When Giscard became president, Chirac was nominated as prime minister by Giscard on 27 May 1974. At the age of just 41, Chirac stood out as the very model of the jeunes loups ("young wolves") of French political life.

However, the government could not afford to ignore the narrow margin by which Giscard d'Estaing had defeated the United Left candidate, François Mitterrand, in 1974. Giscard, not himself a member of the Gaullist Union des Démocrates pour la République (UDR), saw in the essentially pragmatic Chirac the qualities needed to reconcile the "Giscardian" and "non-Giscardian" factions of the parliamentary majority.

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.

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.

Mayor of Paris

By an astute move he secured his election as secretary-general of the Gaullist UDR in the face of potential opposition from the party "barons" and soon afterwards consolidated his hold over the majority by easily defeating an opposition motion of censure. Chirac also formed the conservative Rally for the Republic movement in 1976 to perpetuate the policies of Charles de Gaulle.

With the new party firmly under his control, Chirac was elected mayor of Paris in 1977, a position he held until 1995. As mayor of Paris, Chirac's political influence grew. As mayor, he provided for programs to help the elderly, people with disabilities, and single mothers, while providing incentives for businesses to stay in Paris.

In 1978, he attacked pro-European Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's Union for French Democracy as being the "pro-foreign party" (in the "call of Cochin").

In 1981, Chirac made his first run for president. Chirac ran against sitting president Giscard in the presidential election, thus splitting the center-right vote; both Chirac and Giscard were defeated by Socialist François Mitterrand. Giscard has always blamed Chirac for his defeat in the 1981 elections.

When a strong conservative coalition won a slight majority in the National Assembly in 1986, Mitterrand appointed Chirac prime minister. This power-sharing arrangement, known as cohabitation, gave Chirac the lead in domestic affairs. However it is generally conceded that Mitterand outmanouvred Chirac - using the areas granted to the President of the Republic - defence and foreign affairs - to belittle his Prime Minister.

Chirac sought the presidency and ran against Mitterrand for a second time in 1988, but was defeated in runoff elections. However, he remained mayor of Paris and active in parliament.

Chirac has been named in several cases of alleged corruption and abuse which occurred during his office term as mayor, some of which have already led to felony convictions against other politicians and aides. However, a controversial judicial decision from 1999 grants him virtual immunity, as current president of France. He has refused to testify on these matters, arguing that this would be incompatible with his presidential functions. See Corruption scandals in the Paris region.

Presidency

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The Grand-Croix of the Legion of Honor is conferred on Chirac during his inauguration as President of the French Republic on 17 May 1995.
In   Chirac first met with   .

First term as president

His 18 years as mayor of Paris finally proved the launching pad for his first successful bid for the French presidency. To win he had to first see off a challenge from a fellow Gaullist – prime minister Édouard Balladur (who ran as an independent, though supported by a large share of Chirac's RPR, and finished third in the first round). He then narrowly beat Socialist Party challenger Lionel Jospin in the final runoff election. On his third attempt to win the French presidency, Jacques Chirac finally succeeded in being elected president in May 1995.

Shortly after taking office, Chirac – undaunted by international protests by angry environmental groups – insisted upon the resumption of nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia in 1995. 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."

Chirac announced on 1 February 1996 that France had ended "once and for all" its nuclear testing, intending to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Chirac was elected on a platform of tax cuts and job programs, but his policies did little to ease the recent labor strikes during his first months in office. On the domestic front, neoliberal economic austerity measures introduced by Chirac and his conservative prime minister Alain Juppé, including budgetary cutbacks, proved highly unpopular. At the year's end Chirac faced major workers' strikes.

One of his nicknames is Chameleon Bonaparte. Another is La Girouette ("the weathervane"). At one point an anti-European Gaullist, he became a champion of the Euro as president.

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Trying to firm up his party's government coalition, in 1997 Chirac dissolved parliament for early legislative elections in a gamble designed to bolster support for his conservative economic program. But this strategy backfired. Chirac's dismissal of the parliament created an uproar, and his power was weakened by the subsequent backlash. The Socialist Party, 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. This power-sharing arrangement between Chirac and Jospin 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 criticize Jospin's government.

Second term as president

President Chirac and    talk over issues during the  sessions,  .
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President Chirac and United States President George W. Bush talk over issues during the G-8 sessions, 21 July 2001.

At age 69, Chirac faced his fourth presidential campaign in 2002. He was the first choice of fewer than one voter in five in the first round of voting of the presidential elections of April 2002. It had been expected that he would face incumbent prime minister Lionel Jospin on the second round of elections; instead, Chirac faced controversial right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of the law-and-order, anti-immigrant National Front, and won re-election by a landslide; most parties outside the National Front had called for opposing Le Pen, even if it meant voting for Chirac.

"We must reject extremism in the name of the honor of France, in the name of the unity of our own nation," Chirac said before the presidential election. "I call on all French to massively vote for republican ideals against the extreme right." [2] (http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/04/19/chirac.profile.bittermann/)

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While Jacques Chirac was reviewing troops in a motorcade such as this one on Bastille Day 2002, he was shot at by a deranged bystander.

The left-wing Socialist Party being 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 sharply to the right. The UMP won the parliamentary elections that followed the presidential poll with ease.

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 towards the presidential motorcade, before being overpowered by bystanders. The gunman, Maxime Brunerie, underwent psychiatric testing; the violent far-right group with which he was associated, Unité Radicale was then administratively dissolved. Brunerie had also been a candidate for the Mouvement National Républicain far-right party at a local election. Brunerie's trial for attempted murder begun on December 6, 2004; a crucial question was whether the court found that Brunerie's capacity for rational thought was absent (see insanity defense) or merely altered. On December 10, the court, exceeding the sentence pushed for by the prosecution, sentenced Brunerie to 10 years in prison.

Chirac emerged as a leading voice against US president George W. Bush's administration's conduct in the Middle East. Despite intense U.S. pressure, Chirac threatened to veto any resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would authorize the use of force to disarm Iraq until UN weapons inspectors in Iraq were given more time. (cf. Governments' pre-war positions on invasion of Iraq, Global protests against war on Iraq). Chirac was then the target of various American and British commentators supporting the decisions of president Bush and prime minister Tony Blair, some, like The Sun, engaging in harsh comparisons. See also anti-French sentiment in the United States.

During a state visit to China on April 21, 2005 Chirac's Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin lent support to new "anti-secession" law on Taiwan, allowing China invade Taiwan in the event of Taiwanese independence, and continued to push for a lift of the EU arms embargo against China.

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Jacques Chirac giving a speech to the French People to vote "Yes" on the European Constitution.

On 29 May 2005 a referendum was held in France to decide whether the country should ratify the proposed Constitution of the European Union. The result was a victory for the No campaign, with 55 per cent of voters rejecting the treaty on a turnout of 69 per cent, dealing a devastating blow to Chirac and the UMP party. Chirac's decision to hold a referendum was thought to have been influenced in part by the surprise announcement that the United Kingdom was to hold a vote of its own. Although the adoption of a Constitution had initially been played down as a 'tidying-up' exercise with no need for a popular vote, as increasing numbers of EU member states announced their intention to hold a referendum, the French government came under increasing pressure to follow suit.

After french voters turned down the proposed document by a wide margin as a rebuke to Chirac and his government, two days later, Jean-Pierre Raffarin resigned and Chirac appointed Dominique de Villepin as Prime Minister of France.

In an address to the nation, Chirac has declared that the new cabinet's top priority would be to curb the unemployment level, which consistently hovers above 10%, calling for a "national mobilization" to that effect.

One of the main promises of Jean-Pierre Raffarin as he became Prime Minister was to spur growth and that "the end of President Chirac's term would be marked by a drop of the unemployment." The French economy is growing sluggishly and a significant drop in unemployment is yet to be seen.

Another issue is the European Constitution which, since it has been rejected by both France and the Netherlands in referenda held during the week of June 6, 2005, appears condemned.

Villepin has set himself a deadline a hundred days from now to restore the French people's trust in their government, a statement which can be viewed as ironic from a man whose first published book is titled The Hundred Days or the Spirit of Sacrifice.

Parody

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The satiric show Les Guignols de l'Info portrays president Chirac as incompetent and a liar. When questions become too pressing, Chirac's latex character becomes his super hero alter ego: Super Liar (Super Menteur), who can say the most outrageous lies and the most untenable promises without blinking.

Because of Jacques Chirac's long career in visible government position, he has ofteen been parodied or caricatured:

  • Young Jacques Chirac is the basis of a character in Astérix: that of a young, dashing bureaucrat just out of the bureaucracy school, proposing methods to quell Gallic unrest to elderly, old-style Roman politicians.
  • He was featured in Le Bêbête Show.
  • Jacques Chirac is one favourite character of Les Guignols de l'Info, a satiric latex puppet show. He is shown as a kind of dilettante and incompetent who pilfers public money and lies through his teeth. His character has lately developed a super hero alter ego, Super Menteur ("Super Liar") in order to get him out of embarrassing situations.

Chirac's First Ministry, 28 May 1974 - 27 August 1976

Changes

Chirac's Second Ministry, 20 March 1986 - 12 May 1988


Preceded by:
Michel Cointat
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
1972–1974
Succeeded by:
Raymond Marcellin
Preceded by:
Raymond Marcellin
Minister of the Interior
1974
Succeeded by:
Michel Poniatowski
Preceded by:
Pierre Messmer
Prime Minister of France
1974–1976
Succeeded by:
Raymond Barre
Preceded by:
Alexandre Sanguinetti
General Secretary of the Union of Democrats for the Republic
1974–1975
Succeeded by:
André Bord
Preceded by:
President of Rally for the Republic
1976–1994
Succeeded by:
Alain Juppé
Preceded by:
Laurent Fabius
Prime Minister of France
1986–1988
Succeeded by:
Michel Rocard
Preceded by:
François Mitterrand
President of France
1995–present
Succeeded by:
current incumbent
Preceded by:
François Mitterrand and Joan Martí Alanis
Co-Prince of Andorra
1995–present
with Joan Martí Alanis (1995–2003) and Joan Enric Vives Sicília (2003–present)
Succeeded by:
Current incumbent

</table> </center>

See also

Template:Commons

External links

ca:Jacques Chirac da:Jacques Chirac de:Jacques Chirac es:Jacques Chirac eo:Jacques CHIRAC fr:Jacques Chirac ga:Jacques Chirac gl:Jacques Chirac he:ז'אק שיראק hi:ज़्याक सिराक ia:Jacques Chirac id:Jacques Chirac it:Jacques Chirac lt:Žakas Širakas li:Jacques Chirac zh-min-nan:Jacques Chirac nl:Jacques Chirac nds:Jacques Chirac ja:ジャック・シラク no:Jacques Chirac pl:Jacques Chirac pt:Jacques Chirac ro:Jacques Chirac ru:Ширак, Жак scn:Jacques Chirac simple:Jacques Chirac sr:Жак Ширак fi:Jacques Chirac sv:Jacques Chirac zh:雅克·希拉克

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