Jacques René Chirac
After attending the École nationale d'administration
, Chirac began his career as a high-level civil servant, entering politics shortly thereafter. Chirac occupied various senior positions, including Minister of Agriculture
and Minister of the Interior
. Chirac's internal policies initially included lower tax rates, the removal of price controls
, strong punishment for crime and terrorism, and business privatisation
After pursuing these policies in his second term as Prime Minister, he changed his views. He argued for different economic policies
and was elected president in the 1995 presidential election
with 52.6% of the vote in the second round, beating Socialist Lionel Jospin
, after campaigning on a platform of healing the "social rift" (fracture sociale
Then, Chirac's economic policies, based on dirigisme
, allowing for state-directed investment, stood in opposition to the laissez-faire
policies of the United Kingdom under the ministries of Margaret Thatcher
and John Major
, which Chirac described as "Anglo-Saxonultraliberalism
In 2011, the Paris court declared Chirac guilty of diverting public funds and abusing public confidence, giving him a two-year suspended prison sentence.
Early life and education
Jacques René Chirac was born on 29 November 1932 in the 5th arrondissement of Paris
He was the son of Abel François Marie Chirac (1898–1968), a successful executive for an aircraft company,
and Marie-Louise Valette (1902–1973), a housewife. His grandparents were teachers
in Corrèze. His great-grandparents on both sides were peasants
in the rural south-western region of the Corrèze.
Education and early career
Chirac trained as a reserve military officer in armoured cavalry
He then volunteered to fight in the Algerian War
, using personal connections to be sent despite the reservations of his superiors. His superiors did not want to make him an officer because they suspected he had communist leanings.
In 1965, he became an auditor in the Court of Auditors
Early political career
The "Bulldozer": 1962–1971
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, where it also referred to his abrasive manner. As late as the 1988 presidential election
, Chirac maintained this reputation.
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 worked closely with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
, who headed the ministry of economy and finance.
Cabinet minister: 1971–1974
After some months in the ministry for Relations with Parliament, Chirac's first high-level post came in 1972 when he became Minister of Agriculture
and Rural Development under Pompidou, who had been elected president in 1969, after de Gaulle retired. 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. These elections were moved forward because of Pompidou's sudden death on 2 April 1974.
Chirac vainly attempted 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 favour 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 of Giscard: 1974–1976
When Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
became president, he nominated Chirac as prime minister
on 27 May 1974, 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 politics, but he was 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). Chirac's first tenure as prime minister was also an arguably progressive one, with improvements in both the minimum wage and the social welfare system carried out during the course of his premiership.
Mayor of Paris: 1977–1995
After his departure from the cabinet, Chirac wanted to gain the leadership of the political right, to gain the French presidency in the future. 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 a 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 programmes to help the elderly, people with disabilities, and single mothers, and introduced the street-cleaning Motocrotte
while providing incentives for businesses to stay in Paris. His opponents contend that he installed "clientelist
Struggle for the right-wing leadership: 1976–1986
After the poor results of the election, Chirac broke with Garaud and Juillet. Vexed Marie-France Garaud stated: "We thought Chirac was made of the same marble of which statues are carved in, we perceive he's of the same faiencebidets
are made of."
His rivalry with Giscard d'Estaing intensified. 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.
But the eviction of the Gaullist barons and of President Giscard d'Estaing 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 with 18% of the vote. 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 interpreted as almost 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 tense, with Giscard, even though he had been in the same government coalition as Chirac, criticising Chirac's actions openly.
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 gradually aligned himself with prevailing economically liberal
opinion, even though it did not correspond with Gaullist doctrine. While the far-right National Front grew, taking advantage of the proportional representation
electoral system which had been introduced for the 1986 legislative elections
, he signed an electoral pact with the Giscardian (and more or less Christian Democratic) party Union for French Democracy
Prime Minister of Mitterrand: 1986–1988
Chirac (centre) 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.
Crossing the desert: 1988–1995
Chirac 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 candidate could not become 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."
Nevertheless, the right won the 1993 legislative election
. Chirac announced that he did not want to come back as prime minister as his previous term had ended with his unsuccessful run for the presidency against Mitterrand who was still President at this point.
Chirac instead suggested 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. Balladur broke from Chirac along with a number of friends and allies, including Charles Pasqua, Nicolas Sarkozy
, etc., who supported his candidacy. A small group of "fidels" would remain with Chirac, 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.
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 centre 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 programmes, but his policies did little to ease the labour 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, in November–December 1995, into a general strike
, one of the largest since May 1968. The demonstrations were largely pitted against Juppé's plan for pension reform, and ultimately led to his dismissal.
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
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 and intended to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
State responsibility for the roundup of Jews
Prior to 1995, the French government had maintained that the French Republic
had been dismantled when Philippe Pétain
instituted a new French State during World War II
and that the Republic had been re-established when the war was over. It was not for France, therefore, to apologise for the roundup of Jews for deportation that happened while the Republic had not existed and was carried out by a state, Vichy France
, which it did not recognise. President François Mitterrand
had reiterated this position: "The Republic had nothing to do with this. I do not believe France is responsible," he said in September 1994.
Chirac was the first President of France to take responsibility for the deportation of Jews during the Vichy regime. In a speech made on 16 July 1995 at the site of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup
, where 13,000 Jews had been held for deportation to concentration camps in July 1942, Chirac said, "France, on that day, committed the irreparable". Those responsible for the roundup were "4,500 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders [who] obeyed the demands of the Nazis. ... the criminal folly of the occupiers was seconded by the French, by the French State".
"Cohabitation" with Jospin
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.
After the publication of the Jean-Claude Méry 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 million Francs
, which came from companies who had benefited from state deals, to Michel Roussin
, personal secretary (directeur de cabinet
) of Chirac,
Chirac refused to attend court in response to his summons by judge Eric Halphen
, and the highest echelons of the French justice system declared that he could not be inculpated while in office.
During his two terms, he increased the Elysee Palace's total budget by 105 percent (to €90 million, whereas 20 years before it was the equivalent of €43.7 million). He doubled the number of presidential cars – to 61 cars and seven scooters in the Palace's garage. He hired 145 extra employees – the total number of the people he employed simultaneously was 963.
As the Supreme Commander of the French armed forces, he reduced the military budget, as did his predecessor. At the end of his first term it accounted for three percent of GDP.
In 1997 the aircraft carrier Clemenceau
was decommissioned after 37 years of service, with her sister ship Foch
decommissioned in 2000 after 37 years of service, leaving the French Navy with no aircraft carrier until 2001, when Charles de Gaulle
He also reduced expenditure on nuclear weapons
and the French nuclear arsenal was reduced to include 350 warheads, compared to the Russian nuclear arsenal of 16,000 warheads.
He also published a plan to reduce the number of fighters the French military had by 30.
After François Mitterrand left office in 1995, Chirac began a rapprochement with NATO by joining the Military Committee
and attempting to negotiate a return to the integrated military command
, which failed after the French demand for parity with the United States went unmet. The possibility of a further attempt foundered after Chirac was forced into cohabitation with a Socialist-led cabinet between 1997 and 2002, then poor Franco-American relations after the French UN veto threat over Iraq in 2003 made transatlantic negotiations impossible.
On 25 July 2000, as Chirac and the first lady were returning from the G7 Summit
in Okinawa, Japan, they were placed in a dangerous situation by Air France Flight 4590
after they landed at Charles de Gaulle International Airport. The first couple were in an Air France Boeing 747 taxiing toward the terminal when the jet had to stop and wait for Flight 4590 to take off.
The departing plane, an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde
, ran over a strip of metal on takeoff puncturing its left fuel tank and sliced electrical wires near the left landing gear. The sequence of events ignited a large fire and caused the Concorde to veer left on its takeoff roll. As it reached takeoff speed and lifted off the ground, it came within 30 feet of hitting Chirac's 747. The photograph of Flight 4590 ablaze, the only picture taken of the Concorde on fire, was taken by passenger Toshihiko Sato on Chirac's jetliner.
At the age of 69, Chirac faced his fourth presidential campaign in 2002. He received 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 far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen
of the National Front
(FN), who came in 200,000 votes ahead of Jospin. All parties other than 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 percent judged Chirac favourably 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."
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 aid package to troubled manufacturing giant Alstom
In October 2004, Chirac signed a trade agreement
with PRC President Hu Jintao
where Alstom was given €1 billion in contracts and promises of future investment in China.
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.
The gunman, Maxime Brunerie
, underwent psychiatric testing; the violent far-right group with which he was associated, Unité Radicale
, was then administratively dissolved.
Despite British and American 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. Future Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin
acquired much of his popularity for his speech against the war at the United Nations (UN).
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.
Chirac criticized the Israeli offensive into Lebanon
on 14 July 2006.
However, Israeli Army Radio later reported that Chirac had secretly told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
that France would support an Israeli invasion of Syria
and the overthrow of the government of President Bashar al-Assad
, promising to veto any moves against Israel in the United Nations or European Union
Whereas the disagreement on Iraq had caused a rift between Paris and Washington, recent analysis suggests that both governments worked closely together on the Syria file to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and that Chirac was a driver of this diplomatic cooperation.
In July 2006, the G8
met to discuss international energy concerns. Despite the rising awareness of global warming
issues, the G8 focused on "energy security
" issues. Chirac continued[when?]
to be the voice
within the G8 summit meetings to support international action to curb global warming and climate change
concerns. Chirac warned that "humanity is dancing on a volcano
" and called for serious action by the world's leading industrialised nations.
After Chirac's death in 2019, the street leading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi
was named Jacques Chirac Street in November 2019 in celebration of Chirac's efforts to bolster links between France and the United Arab Emirates
during his presidency.
Chirac espoused a staunchly pro-Moroccan policy, and the already established pro-Moroccan French stances vis-à-vis the Western Sahara conflict
were strenghtened during his presidential tenure.
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. The UNITAID
project was born. Today the organisation's executive board is chaired by Marisol Touraine
2005 referendum on 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 Union for a Popular Movement
(UMP) party, and to part of the centre-left which had supported the TCE. Following the referendum defeat, Chirac replaced his Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin
with Domenique de Villepin. In an address to the nation, Chirac declared that the new cabinet's top priority was to curb unemployment, which was consistently hovering above 10 percent, calling for a "national mobilisation" to that effect.
2005 civil unrest and CPE protests
In early September 2005, Chirac suffered an event that his doctors described as a "vascular incident". It was officially reported as a "minor stroke"
or a mild stroke (also known as a transient ischemic attack
He recovered and returned to his duties soon afterward.
In a pre-recorded television broadcast aired on 11 March 2007, he announced, in a widely predicted move, that he would not choose to seek a third term as president. (In 2000 the constitution had been amended to reduce the length of the presidential term to five years, so his second term was shorter than his first.)
"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.
He 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.
Post-presidency and death
Shortly after leaving office, he launched the Fondation Chirac
in June 2008. Since then it has been striving for peace through five advocacy programmes: conflict prevention, access to water and sanitation, access to quality medicines and healthcare, access to land resources, and preservation of cultural diversity. It supports field projects that involve local people and provide concrete and innovative solutions. Chirac chaired the jury for the Prize for Conflict Prevention awarded every year by his foundation.
As a former President of France, he was entitled to a lifetime pension and personal security protection, and was an ex officio
member for life of the Constitutional Council
He sat for the first time on the council on 15 November 2007, six months after leaving the presidency. Immediately after Sarkozy's victory, Chirac moved into a 180-square-metre (1,900 sq ft) 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 in illegal funding of the RPR
's political campaigns, but the judge closed the case without further investigations.
In Volume 2 of his memoirs published in June 2011, Chirac mocked his successor Nicolas Sarkozy
as "irritable, rash, impetuous, disloyal, ungrateful, and un-French".
Chirac wrote that he considered firing Sarkozy previously, and conceded responsibility in allowing Jean-Marie Le Pen
to advance in 2002.
A poll conducted in 2010 suggested Chirac was the most admired political figure in France, while Sarkozy was 32nd.
On 11 April 2008, Chirac's office announced that he had undergone successful surgery to fit a pacemaker
Chirac suffered from frail health and memory loss in later life. In February 2014 he was admitted to hospital because of pains related to gout
On 10 December 2015, Chirac was hospitalised in Paris for undisclosed reasons, although his state of health did not "give any cause for concern", he remained for about a week in ICU
According to his son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux
, Chirac was again hospitalised in Paris with a lung infection
on 18 September 2016.
Death and state funeral
Chirac's grave in Montparnasse Cemetery, 2 October 2019
Chirac died at his home in Paris on 26 September 2019, surrounded by his family.
A requiem mass
was held at Saint-Sulpice
on 30 September, celebrated by Michel Aupetit
, Archbishop of Paris
, and attended by representatives from about 175 countries, included 69 past and present heads of state, government and international organizations. Notable names included António Guterres
, Jean-Claude Juncker
, Jens Stoltenberg
, Vladimir Putin
, Sergio Mattarella
, Frank-Walter Steinmeier
, Charles Michel
, Viktor Orbán
, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
, Saad Hariri
, Borut Pahor
, Salome Zourabichvili
, Tony Blair
, Jean Chrétien
, Vaira Vike-Freiberga
, Bill Clinton
, Hamid Karzai
, Dai Bingguo
plus many ministers.
The day was declared a national day of mourning
in France and a minute of silence was held nationwide at 15:00. Following the public ceremony, Chirac was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery
with only his closest family in attendance.
Portrait of Chirac by Donald Sheridan
Chirac was a major supporter of the nation's film industry.
Because of Jacques Chirac's long public career, he was often parodied or caricatured: Young Jacques Chirac is the basis of a young, dashing bureaucrat character in the 1976 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 was a favorite character of Les Guignols de l'Info
, a satiric latex puppet show
He was originally portrayed as a rather likable, though overexcited, character; following the corruption allegations, however, he was depicted as a kind of dilettante and incompetent who pilfered public money and lied through his teeth. His character for a while developed a superhero
alter ego, Super Menteur
("Super Liar") to get him out of embarrassing situations. Because of his alleged improprieties, he was lambasted in a song Chirac en prison
("Chirac in prison") by French punk band Les Wampas
, with a video clip made by the Guignols
He was given the Ig Nobel prize
for peace, for commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic bomb tests in the Pacific (1996).
Portrayals in film
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-percent share of Iraqi oil.
As part of this deal, France sold Iraq the Osirak
MTR nuclear reactor
, 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.
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 criticise the Chirac-led opposition to starting a war in Iraq
despite French involvement in the Gulf War
Conviction for corruption
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 increased by 25% from 1977 to 1995 (with 2,000 out of approximately 35,000 coming from the Corrèze region where Chirac had held his seat as deputy), as well as a lack of financial transparency (marchés publics
) and the communal debt, were thwarted by the legal impossibility of questioning him as president.
The conditions of the privatisation
of the Parisian water system acquired very cheaply by the Compagnie Générale des Eaux
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 astronomical "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 1978–93 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.
Chirac's immunity from prosecution ended in May 2007, when he left office as president. In November 2007 a preliminary charge of misuse of public funds was filed against him.
Chirac is said to be the first former French head of state to be formally placed under investigation for a crime.
On 30 October 2009, a judge ordered Chirac to stand trial on embezzlement
charges, dating back to his time as mayor of Paris.
On 7 March 2011, he went on trial on charges of diverting public funds, accused of giving fictional city jobs to twenty-eight activists from his political party while serving as the mayor of Paris
Along with Chirac, nine others stood trial in two separate cases, one dealing with fictional jobs for 21 people and the other with jobs for the remaining seven.
The President of Union for a Popular Movement
, who later served as France's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé
, was sentenced to a 14-month suspended prison sentence for the same case in 2004.
On 15 December 2011, Chirac was found guilty and given a suspended sentence of two years.
He was convicted of diverting public funds, abuse of trust and illegal conflict of interest. The suspended sentence meant he did not have to go to prison, and took into account his age, health, and status as a former head of state.
He did not attend his trial, since medical doctors deemed that his neurological problems damaged his memory.
His defence team decided not to appeal.
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 Villepin'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.
Chirac said that "The Republic is not a dictatorship of rumours, a dictatorship of calumny."
In 1954, Chirac presented The Development of the Port of New-Orleans
, a short geography/economic thesis to the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)
, which he had entered three years before. The 182-page typewritten work, supervised by Professor Jean Chardonnet, is illustrated by photographs, sketches and diagrams.
President of the French Republic: 1995–2007. Reelected in 2002.
Prime minister: 1974–76 (Resignation) / 1986–88.
Minister of Interior: March–May 1974.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: 1972–74.
Minister of Relation with Parliament: 1971–72.
Secretary of State for Economy and Finance: 1968–71.
Secretary of State for Social Affairs: 1967–68.
National Assembly of France
Elected in 1967, reelected in 1968, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1988, 1993: Member for Corrèze
: March–April 1967 (became Secretary of State in April 1967), reelected in 1968, 1973, but he remained a minister in 1976–1986 (became Prime Minister in 1986), 1988–95 (resigned to become President of the French Republic in 1995).
President of the General Council of Corrèze: 1970–1979. Reelected in 1973, 1976.
General councillor of Corrèze: 1968–88. Reelected in 1970, 1976, 1982.
Mayor of Paris: 1977–95 (Resignation, became President of the French Republic in 1995). Reelected in 1983, 1989.
Councillor of Paris: 1977–1995 (Resignation). Reelected in 1983, 1989.
(27 May 1974 – 25 August 1976)
Second Chirac ministry
(20 March 1986 – 12 May 1988)
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