Former president of France Jacques Chirac dies aged 86

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Chirac at Élysée Palace in Paris, 2006
Image: Remibetin.

This morning Jacques Chirac, who served as President of France for twelve years, died at home in Paris, France, surrounded by family. He was 86. The news came from his son-in-law, Frédéric Salat-Baroux, and came after a long period of health problems. He had not made public appearances since 2014, which his wife Bernadette said was due to memory problems.

Jacques Chirac was born in 1932 in Paris. He was a civil servant before becoming a career politician. From 1967 to 1995 he was a member of the French Parliament during which he twice served as prime minister, first under President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in the seventies and again in the eighties under President François Mitterrand. Additionally, Chirac was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

In 1995, Chriac was elected to his first of two terms as President of France. During his presidency he ended mandatory military service and cut two years off the length of presidential terms, down to five years. He favored European integration and sought a more federal European Union. Chirac was also an outspoken opponent of the United States-led Iraq War in 2003.

Chirac was convicted of corruption, stemming from his years as mayor, in 2011. The charges were held back while he was president due to presidential immunity. He was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Both houses of the French Parliament held a minute of silence in Chirac's honor today. Assembly president Richard Ferrand in relaying the news to parliament said, "Jacques Chirac is part of the history of France". Former president Nicolas Sarkozy said of Chirac, "He incarnated a France that was true to its universal values and to its historic role".