Jacques Chirac’s career: From a common official to president

“I am nominating my own candidacy for the position of president of France for the second term,” – French President Jacques Chirac said on Monday. The first stage of the presidential elections will take place in France on April 21st.

Jacques Chirac was born November 29, 1932 in Paris. Chirac graduated from the Institut d'Etudes politiques de Paris in 1954 and the Ecole Nationale d'Adminstration in 1959, specialising both in public administration and politics in France. He also attended Harvard University Summer School in the United States. In 1956, Chirac joined the army and served in Algeria, where France was waging a colonial war. In 1957, he returned to France and enrolled the Ecole Nationale d’Administration school, the school that traines supervisors of the highest level.

The political career of the incumbent French president stared in 1962, when Chirac started working at the governmental personnel office at the time when Charles de Gaulle was the president of France.

During 1967-1968, Jacques Chirac held the position of secretary of state for social issues, being in charge of employment problems. Chirac took part in negotiations with students and striking workers in 1968. This activity had a positive influence on his career, since Chirac held the post of the secretary of state for economic and financial issues over the next several years. In 1974, Chirac became the home minister, after the position of the minister for agriculture. When Valery Giscard d'Estaing became the president of the country in April of 1974, Chirac was appointed to the position of premier. The same year, Chirac became the secretary-general of the conservative Union of Democrats, De Gaulle’s followers.

Chirac resigned from the position of the prime minister in 1976 due to political and economic contradictions with Valery Giscard d'Estaing. Soon after, Jacques Chirac became the president of the Union of Democrats. On March 20, 1977, Chirac was elected mayor of Paris, and he held position until 1995. In 1979, he became a member of the European parliament on the list “the protection of the French interests in Europe,” and he quit that position in 1980.

In 1981, Chirac participated in his first presidential election, but lost to socialist Francois Mitterand. However, Chirac's party had its revenge during the parliamentary elections. The Union for Republic and the Union for the French Democracy joined their efforts and gained the majority at the National Assembly. Mitterand was forced to set up a new government with the participation of the Gaullists.

Mitterand appointed Chirac to the position of premier. In 1998, Chirac took part in the pre-election race and lost to Mitterand again.

In May of 1995, Chirac was elected president of the French republic. As the president, Chirac tried to concentrate on domestic problems: unemployment, taxes, educational reform, the establishment of a professional army. We have to say that the French government has been rather successful in dealing with those problems. Chirac gained more popularity with his idea to cut the term of the French presidency from seven to five years.

Chirac continued going along Mitterand’s way in terms of the foreign policy – further integration in the European Union. In 1995, Chirac refused to stop nuclear tests, and in 1999, he supported NATO’s military operation in Yugoslavia.

The relations between Russia and France during Chirac’s presidency have been rather ambiguous. The seizure of Russian property and bank accounts in connection with the lawsuits from the company Noga and the constant criticism against Moscow concerning Chechnya, on the one hand, are balanced with the aspiration to deepen cooperation between Russia and the EU, as well as NATO on the other hand.

Jacques Chirac is a catholic. He was married on March 16, 1956 and has two daughters. His junior daughter, Claude, is rather famous. She worked as the president’s aide for image. As Chirac's former driver said, Claude had a lot of influence. Her name was mentioned in a scandal last year regarding the unfounded spending of $300 thousand. During the period 1992-1995, Chirac (he was the mayor of Paris at that time) spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, having paid for 20 gorgeous voyages for his relatives and himself. Jacques Chirac did not mention the money in the tax declarations he submitted.

Jacques Chirac does not like the high society arrangements in which he has to participate sometimes. Journalists noticed that he had only four grand receptions in statesmen’s honor over 15 months of his presidency. However, he has had a lot of meetings with French (and foreign) artists, writers, architects, actors, musicians, and professors.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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