return icon Vietnamnet.vn

Jacques Chirac, former French president, is dead at 86

Former French President Jacques Chirac, known for a carefully crafted "everyman" image but whose later years were dogged by allegations of corruption, has died at the age of 86.

News of his death was reported by CNN affiliate BFM.

In recent years, Chirac had suffered from memory loss and was rarely seen in public, but the two-time president will be remembered for his political prowess and his cultivated man-of-the-people style.

Chirac was born and educated in Paris, but developed an affinity for his family's native region in rural France and never lost his touch for the country or the common man.

As president, he clearly enjoyed mixing in with the crowds, trying a bite of this or a glass of that, and often attended agricultural fairs.

Even though he graduated from the best schools, Chirac worked as a sailor at one time and even briefly held a job in the United States.

"I worked also in a factory in St. Louis, an Anheuser-Busch factory," he told CNN's Larry King in 1995.

Chirac volunteered for the French Army in 1956 during the Algerian war. But he was driven by an interest in politics, and at age 35 he became one of the youngest government ministers in France under President Charles de Gaulle.

He held a series of national jobs and then in 1977 became the first elected mayor of Paris -- a post that had been, until then, an appointed position.

Chirac clearly understood the political value in the job: Being mayor of the capital was a perfect springboard to national power. Through his popularity -- some would say prowess -- Chirac was able to serve twice as Prime Minister, even as he retained the job of Paris mayor.

By 1995 his career was flying high. He ran for president and won. But almost from the beginning of his term, he was faced with labor unrest over his economic austerity plans. By the end of his first year, unions nearly brought the country to its knees with strikes that paralyzed the transport sector. The government had to make an embarrassing about-face.

Still hoping more than a year later to enact his plans, Chirac ordered new elections, but the gamble backfired and the national assembly and government shifted to the left. His rival for the presidency became the prime minister. It was perhaps one of Chirac's greatest political miscalculations.

The years that followed were difficult ones, but Chirac's popularity rose as the Socialist prime minister's fell. In 2002, he was elected to a second term.

While there were few dramatic initiatives during his second time in office, one did stand out: He sent his foreign minister to the United Nations to publicly declare that France would oppose the US-led war in Iraq.

The move led to was certainly a low point in Franco-American relations, but as Chirac told CNN at the time, there was no going back.

"That any given individual country could go to war, or wage war on its own, is unthinkable, no one's even contemplating that. So there's not any other solution to multilateralism. It is the conscience and the effectiveness of the world, as expressed to the UN."

As his second mandate played out, Chirac's popularity went into free fall. Even when he suffered a minor stroke in 2005, there was little sympathy for the clearly aging president. At the end of his term in 2007, less than one person in five approved of his presidency -- a record low.

But the end of his political career did not end his problems. For years, he was dogged by charges of corruption dating back decades to his time in the Paris City Hall.

He had immunity from the charges while he was president, but as he moved out of office, the prosecutor moved in. Chirac was tried and convicted of putting his political party workers on the city's payroll, and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Still, through all of the ups and downs of his nearly 40-year career in politics, Chirac remained one of the most popular public figures in France. But that popularity, biographers suggest, may be due to his the perception of him as an "everyman," rather than for any particular achievement.

CNN

MORE NEWS

Discovering craft villages in Buddhist centre in Quang Ninh

Coming to Yen Tu relic site in Quang Ninh province – Vietnam’s major Buddhist centre, tourists can also experience traditional crafts such as making hats, bamboo handicrafts, and wood carvings.

Ministry drafts mechanism to adjust average retail power price

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is drafting a Prime Minister's Decision on the mechanism for adjusting the average retail electricity price.

Foreign investment disbursement hits record high in nine months

Disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first nine months of this year reached 15.4 billion USD, up 16.2 % year-on-year and marking a record high, a report from the Foreign Investment Department (FIA) has shown.

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son pays visit to Germany

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son paid an official visit to Germany from September 26-27 at the invitation of his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock.

2,500 children suffer from cancer in Vietnam every year

The Cancer Centre under the National Paediatrics Hospital, revealed the information in the programme "Con thuyền mơ ước" (Ship of Dreams) to improve people's awareness of children's cancer on Sunday in Hanoi.

New Vietnam-Japan cooperation era: Japanese Vice Minister of Defense

“Let's make 2023 the year that marks the beginning of a new era for both Japan and Vietnam," said Japanese Vice Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama in a talk with VietNamNet.

Challenges ahead for Vietnam this year

“Pressure”, “increased difficulties” and “high risks and challenges”: these are the words used by the Minister of Planning and Investment to describe how hard it will be to fulfill Vietnam’s growth goals this year.

Some industries lack orders, others cannot take more

While woodwork companies are lacking new export orders amid high inflation in the US and Europe, food-processing companies are not receiving new orders because of rising input material prices.

Wholesale and retail sectors lead in new foreign investment approvals

The wholesale and retail industries took the lead in new foreign-invested projects in the January-September period, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Vietnam cracks down on IUU fishing ahead of EC inspectors’ visit

Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh has ordered strengthening inspections to ward off illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as European Commission (EC) inspectors are coming to Vietnam in October.

Phuoc Thinh to represent Vietnam at Mister Tourism World 2022

Vietnamese model Phung Phuoc Thinh is set to compete for a title at Mister Tourism World 2022 due to take place in the Philippines this December.

Vietnam, Kazakhstan to open direct flights in October 2022

The Civil Aviation Committee of Kazakhstan has officially licensed Vietjet Air to launch direct flights between Vietnam and Kazakhstan.

Vietnam among seven economic wonders of worried world: Financial Times

A writing published by the London-based Financial Times on September 26 described Vietnam as one of the seven economic wonders of a worried world.

UNICEF vows to support Vietnam in response to Typhoon Noru

UNICEF Vietnam expressed its concern over children and families in the country vulnerable to Typhoon Noru, saying it stands ready to support the Government of Vietnam in responding to the most powerful storm to hit Vietnam in 20 years.

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends state funeral of late Japanese Prime Minister

Politburo member and President Nguyen Xuan Phuc led the Vietnamese delegation to attend the state funeral of late Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in Tokyo on September 27.
back_to_top