Jacques Chirac

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Jacques René Chirac was born on November 29th, 1932, in Paris, France. His father was a bank clerk and later an executive in an aircraft company. The family was Catholic but also secular and republican oriented. During World War II., the family resided in Corrèze, a southwestern department of France where the family had roots.

The then French president Charles de Gaulle inspired him to be a civil servant. Hence, in 1954, he graduated from the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. Then, the left political spectrum attracted him. Thus, he joined the French communist party. That led to problems with US immigration when he applied for a visa to study at Harvard summer school in 1953.

Between 1955 and 1957, Chirac served in the army as an officer in Algeria. He then attended the École Nationale d’administration – a prestigious school for civil service.

Jacques Chirac
* November 2, 1932, Paris, France
✟ September 26, 2019, Paris, France
© European Communities, 1997/EC, Photo: Christian Lambiotte

Jacques Chirac in top-flight politics

Now a Gaullist (a French course inspired by de Gaulle), he rose through the ranks fast. In 1962, he became an assistant to prime minister Georges Pompidou. And he received the nickname Bulldozer for his toughness. Five years later, he was a seat in the National Assembly, and Pompidou appointed him minister of social affairs. He later ran the departments of agriculture and interior.

In 1974, Jacques René Chirac became the prime minister of France, the semi-presidential country. However, he stepped down two years later due to differences with president Valéry Giscard.

He now shifted to the conservative right and became mayor of Paris in 1977. He held office until 1995 when he became president after his third attempt. 

During his presidency, which lasted for two terms until 2007, he supported lower governmental spendings, further expansion and integration of the EU, and opposed the war in Iraq. However, his presidency also marked growing unemployment. In 2011, he was found guilty of corruption which occurred when he was mayor of Paris. He accepted the two-year suspended sentence. 

He has two children with his wife, Bernadette Chirac. Jacques Chirac died on September 26th, 2019, in Paris.

“One can go to war alone, but you can’t build peac alone.”

Jacques Chirac