Former French president Jacques Chirac has died aged 86, it emerged today.
Chirac, who for some years had suffered from memory loss believed to be linked to Alzheimer’s, was France’s head of state from 1995 to 2007.
Chirac served as France’s president twice, and was also its prime minister two times. He also spent 18 years as the mayor of Paris.
The former president is remembered for France’s vocal opposition to the US and UK’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 under President Goegre Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Chirac at the time called war a “last resort”. “It is always a proof of failure,” he added on the eve of the invasion.
“It is always the worst of solutions, because it brings death and misery.”
His anti-war stance earned him a 90 per cent approval rating at the time.
One of Chirac’s most notable political reforms was to cut the presidential term of office from seven years to five.
He served two terms as French president and also took France into the euro at the turn of the century.
Chirac, remembered for his roguish charm, became one of France’s most popular leaders in his retirement despite inaction dogging his presidency.
The politician was seen as a man of the people, and he won the presidency in 1995 on an agenda vowing an end to social divisions and widespread unemployment and inequality.
But reforms under his government to pensions and social security cuts sparked mass protests of 2m people.
His decision to consolidate power with a 1997 election backfired spectacularly when the Socialists won, meaning Chirac was forced to share power with the left-wing party.
Chirac then returned to power in 2002 with 82 per cent of the vote as left-leaning voters backed the politician to block the right-wing Jean-Marine Le Pen getting into power.
But the late president left office with one of the worst approval ratings of a post-war president after calling a referendum in 2005 on the proposed EU constitution, which the public voted decisively against.
Chirac’s legacy was further dented aged 79, when he was found guilty of embezzling public funds as Paris mayor, earning him a two-year suspended jail term.
More to follow.