Jacques Chirac infographic
Graphic shows profile of Jacques Chirac.


Former French president Jacques Chirac dies

By Jordi Bou

September 26, 2019 - The former French president Jacques Chirac, a self-styled affable rogue who had one of the longest political careers in Europe, has died aged 86.

Born in Paris in 1932, the son of a bank manager, Chirac entered politics in the early 60s, working for the Gaullist prime minster Georges Pompidou. Known for his drive - he helped negotiate an end to the Paris riots of 1968 - he rose to the office of prime minister in 1974, under President Valery Giscard D'Estaing, only to resign two years later to form his own party - the neo-Gaullist Rally for the Republic, or RPR.

In 1977 he became Mayor of Paris, a role he held for 18 years but during which, it would later be proved, he diverted public money for political ends. He served a second term as prime minister under Francois Mitterand from 1986-88 before finally becoming president, at the third attempt, in 1995. While his decision that year to resume nuclear testing in the South Pacific caused international outrage, his acknowledgment - the first by a French head of state - of France's role in the deportation of Jews during the Second World War, won him public acclaim at home.

Forced into power sharing with the Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin, after the 1997 election, Chirac made a stunning comeback in 2002, beating the right-wing extremist, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in a runoff. Hailed for standing up to the U.S. by refusing to enter the war with Iraq, he continued to campaign for closer European ties. He suffered a stroke in 2005, effectively ending a prominent political career that had spanned three decades.

PUBLISHED: 26/09/2019; STORY: Susan Shepherd; PICTURES: Newscom, Getty Images
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