PROFILE : Jacques Chirac, second longest serving president of France


Jacques Chirac, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 86, was one of the longest serving presidents in the history of France, holding the position from 1995 until 2007.

The center-right politician was the second longest serving president of France, after socialist Francois Mitterrand.

Chirac also served twice as prime minister of the Western European country from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988.

He served as mayor of Paris for 18 years — from 1977 to 1995 — as well.

The first presidential term of Chirac was marked by his efforts to cut government spending and reduce the budget deficit to allow the country’s qualification for the new currency, Euro.

Single common European currency Euro replaced French currency franc in 2002.

In a referendum held in 2000 in the country, the presidential term was reduced from seven years to five years.

During the presidential elections of 2002, Chirac qualified for the second round of elections along with far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Then, the qualification of Le Pen to the second round unified all the political establishment to support Chirac.

In the second round — after receiving the support of Communist and Socialist Party — he secured the highest margin of votes in any French presidential election, receiving 82 % of the votes.

Chirac was also known for his strong opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“Iraq today does not constitute an immediate threat that justifies an immediate war,” Chirac had said, in opposition to the war.

He signed a controversial law in 2004 which prohibited the headscarves worn by Muslim women and other religious symbols in state schools.

This was only a start of the oppression of headscarf-wearing Muslim women in France and the ban was even extended by the following governments.

In 2011, Chirac received a two-year suspended jail sentence from a Paris court, for diverting public funds and abusing public confidence.

He was the first French president who was convicted by a court in the period after WWII.
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