Jacques Chirac

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Jacques Chirac (2003)
Signature of Jacques Chirac

Jacques René Chirac (pronunciation:  [ ʒak ʃi'ʁak ] ; born  November 29, 1932 in Paris ; † September 26, 2019 ibid) was a French politician and President of France from 1995 to 2007 . Prior to that, Chirac was Prime Minister of the French Republic from 1974 to 1976 and 1986 to 1988, and from 1977 to 1995 Mayor of Paris (Maire de Paris). Jacques Chirac founded the Gaullist party Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) in 1976 , which he transferred to the center-right collection movement Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) in 2002 . In 2011, he was sentenced to two years suspended prison sentence for embezzlement of public funds and illegal party funding while serving as Mayor of Paris. Please click to listen!Play


Jacques René Chirac was born in Paris in 1932. His father Abel François Chirac (1893–1968) made it from accountant to financial advisor and confidante of the influential industrialist family Dassault . His mother Marie-Louise Valette (1902–1973) was a housewife. The parents came from Sainte-Féréole in the central French, rural Corrèze department in the Limousin region .

Chirac had been married to Bernadette Chirac , née Chodron de Courcel, since 1956 and had two daughters, Laurence (1958-2016) and Claude Chirac (* 1962). In 1979, the Chirac couple adopted the Vietnamese Anh Dao Traxel (* 1958) as their daughter on arrival in France (she was a boat refugee ) without a court decision on adoption. Anh Dao Traxel published an autobiography in 2006 in which she describes Chirac very positively, although contact broke off in 1995.


Chirac attended the Lycée Carnot and the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, where he received his Baccalauréat in 1950 . Then he studied political science until 1953 at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (IEP or Sciences Po). In 1959 he completed training for top civil servants at the École nationale d'administration (ENA) . There he was a classmate of the later Socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard .

military service

He did his 18-month military service from 1956 to 1957. Chirac was first at the renowned cavalry school in Saumur and then volunteered in the Algerian War as a lieutenant with the Chasseurs d'Afrique in the Tlemcen department , on the border with Morocco . As a reserve officer he later rose to the rank of colonel.

The way into politics

Chirac joined the Rassemblement du peuple français (RPF), General de Gaulle's party, as a student in 1947 , but was not an active member. While studying at Sciences Po, he turned left and signed the Stockholm Appeal against Nuclear Weapons , initiated by the Parti communiste français . After graduating from ENA, he became Commissioner at the French Court of Auditors and Lecturer ( Maître de conférences ) at Sciences Po. In June 1962 he was appointed Commissioner for Construction and Transport in the General Secretariat of the Government, where he worked with Prime Minister Georges Pompidou . Together with Bernard Pons , Jean Charbonnel and Pierre Mazeaud , he was counted among the jeunes loups ("young wolves") Pompidous and began to get involved in the Gaullist party Union pour la Nouvelle République (UNR). In 1965 he was elected to the parish council of Sainte-Féréole in the Limousin .

In the 1967 parliamentary elections, Chirac was elected to the National Assembly as a member of the 3rd constituency of the Corrèze department . This constituency had previously had a Socialist MP. In May 1967, Chirac was appointed State Secretary for Employment (under Labor Minister Jean-Marcel Jeanneney ) in the Pompidou III cabinet. Pompidou called him his "bulldozer". In July 1968, he moved to the Ministry of Finance and Economics as State Secretary (under Minister François-Xavier Ortoli ). He kept this position after de Gaulle's resignation and the election of his sponsor Georges Pompidou as President. In January 1971 he was appointed Minister Associate with the Prime Minister for Relations with Parliament in the Chaban-Delma Cabinet . From July 1972, Chirac served as Minister of Agriculture in Messmer I and II cabinets . In Pierre Messmer's third government , Chirac was Minister of the Interior from February to May 1974.

Prime Minister, RPR Chairman, Mayor of Paris

Chirac in 1980

After Pompidou's sudden death, an early presidential election was held in 1974. Contrary to the official line of the Gaullist UDR (successor to the UNR), Chirac spoke out against his party colleague Jacques Chaban-Delmas and for Valéry Giscard d'Estaing from the liberal-conservative Républicains indépendants in this election . He won the election and on May 27, 1974 appointed Chirac Prime Minister . In December of the same year he was also elected General Secretary of the UDR. During his reign, the age of majority was reduced to 18 years, the termination of pregnancy was made unpunished and the public broadcaster Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (ORTF) was dissolved. In doing so, he broke with several positions that the Gaullist governments had previously held. After conflicts with the President, he resigned on August 26, 1976; his successor was the non-party Raymond Barre .

In December 1976 Chirac founded the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) as a new organization of the (neo) Gaullists and successor party to the UDR. The RPR was the largest right-of-center party in France until 2002, and Chirac led it until 1994. In 1977 the office of mayor of Paris (maire de Paris) was reinstated after the capital had been ruled by prefects of the central government for over a century . Although he had previously refused to introduce this office himself, he ran for mayoral election and won. He was re-elected in 1983 and 1989 and remained City Councilor of Paris until 1995. Serious allegations of corruption against him originate from this time, but could not be resolved at the time because of his immunity as president.

After the 1979 European elections , Chirac became a member of the European Parliament ; he resigned from this position on April 28, 1980. Chirac ran for the presidential election in 1981 , but retired with 18% of the vote in third place behind the incumbent Giscard d'Estaing and the ultimately victorious socialist François Mitterrand .

Cohabitation : President Mitterrand and Prime Minister Chirac (1986)

After five years in the opposition, the bourgeois parties RPR and UDF won the parliamentary elections in March 1986. The socialist Mitterrand had to appoint Chirac as the leader of the majority party as prime minister ( Chirac II cabinet ). For the first time in the Fifth Republic there was cohabitation , which means that the President and Prime Minister belonged to opposing political camps. In personal union , Chirac also remained mayor of Paris. Chirac is committed to the ratification of the Single European Act . In doing so, France renounced the right of national veto in the EC Council, for which President de Gaulle had vehemently advocated 21 years earlier.

In the 1988 presidential election , Chirac ran again. This time he qualified for the runoff election, but was defeated by the incumbent François Mitterrand with 46 to 54 percent. This dismissed Chirac as Prime Minister on May 10, 1988 and reappointed a socialist, Michel Rocard . The left also prevailed against the conservative camp in the parliamentary elections that followed.

At the RPR party convention in Le Bourget in 1990, there was a battle vote: The “orthodox” and “social Gaullists” led by Charles Pasqua and Philippe Séguin called for a return to the populist and social principles of Gaullism and refused to expand European institutions. Chirac combined the vote on the program proposal with the vote of confidence over his position as party leader and brought more than two thirds of the delegates behind him. In the referendum on the EU Treaty of Maastricht , Chirac spoke out in favor of a “yes”, while the majority of the RPR voters rejected it. The center-right parties RPR and UDF won the parliamentary elections in 1993 with an overwhelming majority. The second cohabitation occurred. Chirac left the office of prime minister to his party colleague Édouard Balladur , as he sought the office of president in the election that took place two years later.

First term as President

In the presidential election in April and May 1995 - contrary to their agreement to share the two top positions - alongside Chirac, Édouard Balladur also ran. The RPR was split: Chirac was internally a. a. supported by Alain Juppé and Dominique de Villepin , while François Fillon and Nicolas Sarkozy sided with Balladur. Chirac still regarded the balladuriens as traitors years later, whose political careers he hindered, while he especially encouraged his followers (chiraquiens) . The UDF, traditionally allied with the RPR, officially supported Balladur, but individual UDF politicians, including ex-President Giscard d'Estaing, spoke out in favor of Chirac.

In the election campaign, Chirac addressed the "social fracture" ( fracture sociale - a term coined by Emmanuel Todd ), which he promised to overcome. He gave top priority to maintaining and creating jobs, and if necessary France should also violate the Maastricht convergence criteria . So he pulled the "social Gaullists" around Philippe Séguin, who had previously been rather critical of him, to his side. In the first round he received 20.84% ​​of the vote (the socialist Lionel Jospin received 23.30% and Balladur 18.58%). In the runoff election against Jospin, Chirac prevailed with 52.64% of the vote. On May 17, 1995, he was solemnly inducted into the office of President. On the same day, Chirac sacked his rival Balladur as prime minister and instead appointed his longtime ally, Alain Juppé.

Chirac with US President Bill Clinton (1999)

On July 16, 1995, in a speech he made on the occasion of the anniversary of the raid on the Vélodrome d'Hiver , Chirac recognized for the first time for the state he represented that France was involved in the deportation and extermination of those in the country at the time of the occupation living Jews had actively participated (details here ) and has this moral and political responsibility. As President Chirac officially spoke of his country's “common” and “ineradicable guilt”: these hours of darkness will forever sull our history. They are a disgrace to our past and to our lore. The criminal madness of the occupiers was supported by the French, by the French state. As a consequence, the courts recognized claims for damages against the state, for example in the lawsuits against the state railway SNCF for deportations .

Shortly after taking office, Chirac decided to resume the controversial nuclear weapon tests on Mururoa after a three-year moratorium under his predecessor Mitterrand . There were violent international protests. From October 1995, the Juppé government pursued liberal economic reforms in order - contrary to Chirac's election campaign rhetoric - to comply with the EU convergence criteria, which essentially corresponded to a continuation of Balladur's policy.

George W. Bush with Jacques Chirac on July 21, 2001

In April 1997, Chirac dissolved parliament because he hoped to win a stable conservative majority in the early elections during controversial economic reforms . However, his plan failed; the socialist Lionel Jospin became prime minister and Chirac had to spend the next five years again in a cohabitation (with the Jospin cabinet ), this time as president. The RPR fell into internal party struggles: many politicians blamed the president for the lost election. Balladuriens and “social Gaullists” urged Chirac confidante Juppé to resign from the party chairmanship, his successor was Philippe Séguin. A large number of internal party rivals prepared to challenge Chirac for the presidency in 2002.

Re-election as President in 2002

The first round of the presidential election on April 21, 2002 , with the two favorites, incumbent Chirac and Prime Minister Jospin, was received as a political earthquake: Jean-Marie Le Pen , candidate of the right-wing extremist Front National (FN) won 16.86 percent of the vote second place after Chirac, who received 19.88 percent of the vote, the worst result of a re-elected president. Lionel Jospin received only 16.18 percent of the vote and was therefore 'out of the race' as third place. Jospin had fallen victim to the fragmented left, whose votes had been split among several candidates.

As a reaction to his poor performance, after this first round of elections, Chirac and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé founded the right-wing electoral alliance Union pour la Majorité Présidentielle (UMP; later renamed Union pour un mouvement populaire , today Les Républicains ) (probably with the aim of to beat his rival for the second round of the presidential election - Jean-Marie Le Pen). Thanks to the UMP and the support of almost all left and bourgeois forces, who turned the election into an “anti-le-pen referendum”, Chirac was elected with 25.5 million votes or 82.21 percent. It was the best result ever achieved by a presidential candidate in France.

Second term and end of the Chirac era in 2007

After his re-election, Jospin's withdrawal from politics and the UMP's victory in the parliamentary elections in 2002 , Chirac was again able to rely on a right-wing majority in the National Assembly for his second term. Prime Minister was Jean-Pierre Raffarin .

Chirac spoke out resolutely against the Bush administration's plans for war against Iraq , while France vetoed the proposed war resolutions in the United Nations Security Council. Due to the common position on the Iraq question, the personal trust between Chirac and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder "has become much bigger and deeper", the latter stated in his memoir. The relationship with the USA and also with Great Britain ( Blair cabinet ) deteriorated considerably as a result. Chirac also held a referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty. In the election campaign for the referendum, the question of Turkey's accession to the European Union was also raised (which Chirac supported); there was also a debate about the economic and social policy direction of the EU. In addition, overshadowed by a debate about domestic reforms of the Raffarin government , especially in social policy, the constitutional treaty was finally rejected on May 29, 2005 with almost 55 percent of the vote. This rejection was also interpreted as the personal defeat of the president, who had been heavily involved in the election campaign. Raffarin took political responsibility for the defeat and resigned as prime minister.

Chirac appointed his confidante Dominique de Villepin as the new Prime Minister (→ Cabinet de Villepin ). He passed the chairman of the UMP, Nicolas Sarkozy , who was Minister of State and again Minister of the Interior. The relationship between Chirac and Sarkozy was considered to be broken: on the one hand, because Sarkozy was a close collaborator of Chirac's competitor Édouard Balladur in 1995; on the other hand, because Sarkozy worked very openly towards his own presidential candidacy in 2007 . The increasingly fierce rivalry between de Villepin and Sarkozy for the successor to Chirac shaped his remaining term of office, including the Clearstream affair . When de Villepin, favored by Chirac, was no longer available as a presidential candidate after the Clearstream affair, Chirac kept his own renewed candidacy open for a long time, even after Sarkozy was nominated as the UMP presidential candidate. It was not until the evening of March 11, 2007 that Chirac officially announced in a televised speech that it would not take part in the 2007 presidential election. He did not make any recommendations for his successor at the top of France.

On May 6, 2007 , Sarkozy was elected as the new president. On May 16, Chirac handed over the office of President to him.

After the term of office as President

Chirac had lived in Paris and in his castle in the province since he left the office of President. As a former President, he was a member of the Conseil constitutionnel , but last took part in a meeting in December 2010 and officially resigned from his function until further notice in March 2011.

When he resigned as president, Chirac's immunity also ended, which made it possible to prosecute some affairs, some of which still go back to Chirac's activity as Paris mayor.

Clearstream II affair

The Clearstream II affair , an investigation into alleged secret accounts held by the Luxembourg clearing company Clearstream when selling French frigates to Taiwan in the early 1990s, drew wide circles in French politics and business after a CD-ROM was anonymously sent to a French examining magistrate in 2004 16,000 accounts had been leaked. Chirac, whose immunity expired in June 2007, was considered by the investigating judges as a witness, while his lawyer, Jean Veil, protested.

Conviction for embezzlement and abuse of trust

At the end of October 2009, a Paris investigative court decided to initiate criminal proceedings against Chirac for “misappropriation of public funds” ( détournement de fonds ) and abuse of trust” ( abus de confiance ). He was accused of having tolerated a system of “interlinked cost assumption” and provided party officials and loved ones with courtesy jobs during his tenure as Mayor of Paris (1977–1995) and as chairman of the Rassemblement pour la République (1976–1994) . In several cases, the investigators saw it as proven that bogus employment contracts were concluded. The city of Paris suffered damage of five million euros.

On March 7, 2011 the trial of Chirac opened; Postponed a few hours later because of a question of procedure. The city of Paris, the victim of the alleged bogus employment contracts, had refrained from appearing as a joint plaintiff. Chirac and the UMP party had previously reimbursed the city treasury for more than two million euros. Because of Chirac's health, the trial was held on September 5, 2011 without him. Chirac was sentenced to two years suspended prison sentence on December 15, 2011, for misappropriation of public funds and illegal party funding, despite prosecutors calling for an acquittal. Chirac contradicted the verdict but would not appeal because he did not have the strength to fight for the truth in front of new judges.

Death and obituary

Burial site, Cimetière du Montparnasse, October 2, 2019

On September 26, 2019, Jacques Chirac died with his family at the age of 86 after a long illness in his apartment in Paris. He had suffered from severe memory problems for a while and had rarely appeared in public. During his tenure, he suffered a stroke in 2005 . The incumbent President Emmanuel Macron ordered a state mourning . The President of the National Assembly , Richard Ferrand , said that in Chirac, the French people had lost a tireless republican and visionary who had a sense for the great debates of his time. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reacted “affected” to Chirac's death and described him as a “great European” and “personal friend”.

A requiem was given by Michel Aupetit on September 30, 2019 in St. Sulpice Church in Paris. Among the many mourners from all over the world were Vladimir Putin , Bill Clinton , Frank-Walter Steinmeier , Prince Edward , Viktor Orbán , Albert of Monaco , Hamid Karzai , Saad Hariri , the Emir of Qatar , Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg , and Crown Prince Moulay Hassan of Morocco and Joachim to Denmark .

Nuclear doctrine

France had officially decided to become a nuclear power in 1958 . With four above-ground nuclear weapons tests in Algeria in 1960 and 1961 , it had proven its ability to build atomic bombs. In 1966 it withdrew from the military structure of NATO ; In 2009 it became a full member of NATO again.

In 1992, President Mitterrand stopped testing nuclear weapons, and in 1995 Chirac restarted them shortly before the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima. On January 27, 1996, France's last test took place under the Mururoa atoll. Later that year, France signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. In 1996 Chirac received the Ig Nobel Prize in the Peace category for the reintroduction of the tests in the Pacific shortly before the Hiroshima anniversary .

Statements by Chirac on the occasion of a troop visit on January 19, 2006 attracted a  great deal of international attention - particularly because of the worsening nuclear dispute with Iran ; many observers interpreted it as a "turnaround" in the previous nuclear doctrine of France. Chirac threatened terrorist- supporting states with nuclear strikes if they attack France. Without addressing Iran directly, at the Île Longue military base he announced “leaders” of such states would retaliate in an “unconventional” manner. However, Chirac explicitly alluded to "the temptation of certain states" to "equip themselves with nuclear weapons in breach of the treaties". Chirac declared the use of nuclear weapons to be justified even in the event that a state threatened the "vital interests" of France or those of its allies with terrorist means. Neither the reservation nor the terminology was new, however ; What was new was the way of expressing itself calculated on the date - and the obvious addressee -. Chirac's remarks were sometimes sharply criticized in Germany. Among other things, he was accused of violating international law . Opposition parties in the German Bundestag called on Chancellor Angela Merkel ( Merkel I cabinet ) to clearly distance herself from Chirac.

In popular culture

The figure of Technocrat (in the French original Caius Saugrenus ) in the Asterix comic Obelix GmbH & Co. KG from 1976 is a parody of the then Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. There he embodies Caesar's young economic advisor .

Awards (excerpt)


Web links

Commons : Jacques Chirac  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files



Individual evidence

  1. Spiegel Online: France's Ex-President - Jacques Chirac is dead , accessed on September 26, 2019
  2. ^ Munzinger
  3. avec AFP: Mort de Jacques Chirac: Anh Dao Traxel sa “fille de coeur” salue ce “grand homme” qui l'a protégée. September 26, 2019, accessed September 30, 2019 (French).
  4. a b c Jacques Chirac, sabre au clair. In: L'Humanité , May 8, 1995.
  5. see also list of members of the 1st European Parliament
  6. a b c d Andrew Knapp: From the Gaullist movement to the president's party. In: Jocelyn AJ Evans: The French party system. Manchester University Press, Manchester 2003, pp. 121-136, at p. 125.
  7. Udo Kempf: From de Gaulle to Chirac. The French political system. 3rd edition, Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1997, p. 188.
  8. ^ David S. Bell: Parties and Democracy in France. Parties Under Presidentialism. Ashgate, 2000.
  9. Emile Chabal: A Divided Republic. Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2015, pp. 87-89.
  10. a b Jochen Schmidt: Rally for the Republic (RPR). In: Sabine Russ among others: Parties in France. Continuity and Change in the Fifth Republic. Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2000, pp. 197-219, on p. 202.
  11. www.elysee.fr
  12. "An act of stupidity". In: Der Spiegel No. 37/1995, September 11, 1995.
  13. ^ Georg Wenzelburger: Budget consolidations and reform processes. Determinants, consolidation profiles and reform strategies in the analysis. Lit Verlag, Berlin / Münster 2010, p. 315ff. ( online )
  14. ^ Andrew Knapp, Vincent Wright: The Government and Politics of France. 5th edition, Routledge, Abingdon (Oxon) / New York 2006.
  15. Christian Lequesne: The Foreign Policy of Jacques Chirac or: France without surprises. In: hal-sciencespo.archives-ouvertes.fr. 2007, accessed September 30, 2019 .
  16. Michaela Wiegel : Chirac's miscalculation. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , May 30, 2005, accessed December 20, 2012 .
  17. Michael Mönninger: Citizen King against Bonaparte . In: Die Zeit , No. 43/2005
  18. Chirac's televised address on March 11, 2007 ( Memento of March 14, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Text and video (French)
  19. ^ Marie-Amélie Lombard: Pas de retour au Conseil constitutionnel pour Chirac. Le Figaro , September 5, 2011, accessed March 9, 2016 (French).
  20. ^ The law above . In: The Economist , July 14, 2007
  21. Michaela Wiegel : Chirac has to go to court for embezzlement. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , October 30, 2009.
  22. cf. Chirac is on trial for corruption. ( Memento from October 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In: Financial Times Deutschland , October 30, 2009.
  23. cf. Chirac is charged with infidelity. ( Memento of March 10, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) In: Netzeitung , October 30, 2009.
  24. Jacques Chirac threatens to stumble over his own generosity. In: Basler Zeitung , March 7, 2011.
  25. Sylvie Stephan: "Chirac is not able to follow his process" In: Rheinische Post , September 6, 2011.
  26. Michaela Wiegel: Chirac found guilty of corruption. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , December 15, 2011.
  27. Jacques Chirac renounces appeal. In: Spiegel Online , December 15, 2011.
  28. Par Ava Djamshidi et Nathalie SchuckLe 29 septembre 2019 à 07h07, Modifié Le 29 Septembre 2019 à 08h58: Les Chirac rue de Tournon: derniers rires, dernier soupir. September 29, 2019, accessed on October 6, 2019 (fr-fr).
  29. Spiegel Online: France's Ex-President - Jacques Chirac is dead , accessed on September 26, 2019
  30. Le Monde: Mort de Jacques Chirac - les réactions en direct (live) , accessed on September 26, 2019
  31. ^ Funeral service in Paris: "Adieu et merci, Monsieur Chirac" . In: Spiegel Online . September 30, 2019 ( spiegel.de [accessed October 6, 2019]).
  32. www.charles-de-gaulle.de ( Memento from January 13, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  33. Jean-Pierre Maulny: France and its future position in NATO - a political, not a military, debate (November 2007)
  34. In the spring of 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy declared that he wanted to reintegrate France into the military structures immediately. On March 17, the Assemblée nationale approved Sarkozy's plan to fully return France to the command structure (diepresse.com March 17, 2009: Parliament approves France's return to NATO ).
  35. Wolf-Dieter Roth, Bombed into the atomic age
  36. ^ Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize
  37. Chirac et la bomb . Le Monde , January 21, 2006.
  38. Matthias Heine: How the young Chirac became the Asterix figure. In: Welt , September 27, 2019.
  39. a b List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF; 6.9 MB)