Former French President Jacques Chirac dies at 86

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 27, 2019
Adjust font size:
File photo taken on May 16, 2007 shows Jacques Chirac waving to people as he leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. [Photo/Xinhua]

France's former President Jacques Chirac died on Thursday at the age of 86, local media reported.

Chirac, who led France between 1995 and 2007, "died this morning in peace, surrounded by his family," Frederic Salat-Baroux, Chirac's son-in-law, told French media.

After he left the Elysee Palace, Chirac was reportedly hospitalized several times following a stroke and lung infection.

Under his leadership, France entered the single-currency European bloc and Chirac also shortened the presidential term of office from seven to five years via a referendum in 2000.

The center-right politician was known for his opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led operation in Iraq, a decision which elicited admiration at home but tainted the diplomatic ties between Paris and Washington.

Born in Paris in 1932, Chirac was the only child of a middle-class family. His father was a bank manager, who became managing director of the Dassault aircraft company. His mother was a housewife.

Chirac, nicknamed "The Bulldozer" for his skills at getting things done and for his abrasive manner, graduated from France's prestigious Ecole nationale d'administration (ENA).

He began his political career in the 1960s, when he was named head of the personal staff of Gaullist Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, who considered him as his "protege."

At the age of 41, Chirac became prime minister in 1974 under President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. However, following a disagreement over the extent of his powers, he quit two years later and created his own party, the Rally for the Republic (RPR), which changed name to the Union for a Popular Majority (UMP), and is now known as The Republicans.

Between 1977 and 1995, Chirac was mayor of Paris before starting his 12-year term at the Elysee Palace.

Chirac, who had dominated France's political landscape for over a decade, was rarely seen in public in the last years of his life after his health had deteriorated.

Tribute at home, abroad

Figures from France's political life, opponents and supporters alike, have paid homage to the ex-head of state.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to deliver a televised address later on Thursday after he has canceled a visit to southwestern France, where he was scheduled to attend a debate on pension reform.

Early on Thursday, the National Assembly, the parliament's lower house, suspended a sitting to observe a minute's silence.

"Jacques Chirac is now a part of the history of France. A France in his image: full of energy, complex, sometimes full of contradictions, always motivated by a tireless passion for the Republic," said Richard Ferrand, the National Assembly president.

Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, hailed a "statesman out of norms, a great humanist figure (who) marked the history of our country."

"Today, Paris is in mourning. In tribute to his memory, the flags on all municipal buildings will be half-masted," Hidalgo tweeted.

"Despite all the differences," Marine Le Pen, leader of far-right National Rally party, paid tribute to "a president who was able to oppose the madness of the war in Iraq, reviving France's traditional position of balance and diplomacy."

While French politicians have expressed their "great emotion," world leaders also conveyed their condolences in a deluge of messages.

"Europe does not only lose a great head of state, but also a close friend," Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, wrote in a Twitter message.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "very saddened" by Chirac's death, hailing him as "a great partner and friend."

"Jacques Chirac has earned the deserved respect of his compatriots and a high international authority as a wise and visionary leader who has always defended the interests of his country," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from