Jacques Chirac


Jacques Chirac was elected president of France in 1995, after serving 18 years as the mayor of Paris, and re-elected in 2002. A pre-eminent statesman and one of the most enduringly popular politicians in France, Chirac entered French national politics in the 1950s, inspired by Charles de Gaulle. He held various high level government posts and elected offices throughout his career, including two terms as prime minister (1974-76 and 1986-88).
In 1962, Jacques Chirac became an aide to France’s then Prime Minister Georges Pompidou. In March 1965, his political career began in earnest when he was elected as a local councilor in St. Féréole in Corrèze, central France. Elected as Member of Parliament from the same region in 1967, he became Secretary of State for Employment.
From 1967-1974, Jacques Chirac held several ministerial posts, including Secretary of State for Social Affairs, Secretary of State for Economy and Finance, Minister of Agriculture, and Minister of Interior.
During the 1974 presidential elections, he signed the "Appeal of 43" to help the election of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. The latter appointed Chirac Prime Minister after winning the elections.
The year 1976 marked a turning point in the career of Jacques Chirac. After leaving the government, he founded the RPR in 1976 and won the municipal elections in Paris in 1977. He remained the Mayor of Paris until 1995, when he was elected President.
Jacques Chirac was invited by Francois Mitterrand to form a government in 1986, after the defeat of the Socialist Party in the parliamentary elections. In 1988 he ran again against Mitterrand in the presidential elections and lost. Seven years later, however, Chirac defeated Lionel Jospin and was elected President with 52.6% of votes.
Jacques Chirac's re-election as president in 2002, with a huge cross-party majority, crowned a career which saw him leave an indelible mark on French politics. One of his major political reforms was to cut the presidential term of office from seven to five years, bringing it into line with that of parliament, though it meant a shorter second presidency for himself.
Abroad, the French leader was seen as the focus of opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2008, he founded the Chirac Foundation to promote sustainable development and cultural dialogue.
Read President Chirac’s speech at the Aladdin Project’s launch conference