Jacques Chirac, a major political force in France for more than three decades, serving two terms as president from 1995 to 2007, has died. He was 86.
Chirac’s death was confirmed by the Fondation Chirac in Paris. During his long career in French politics, Chirac became best-known internationally for championing the European Union as well as opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 1995, upon becoming president, Chirac acknowledged France’s collaboration with Nazi occupiers during World War II, which led to the deportation of 75,000 Jews to death camps. He was the first French leader to do so.
Chirac participated in 1976 in the creation of the Rassemblement Pour la République (RPR), a right-wing party inspired by the political ideas of Charles de Gaulle, and took control of the party. A year later, he became mayor of Paris and remained in the post until 1995. Before becoming president, Chirac also served as prime minister under centrist and Socialist presidents.
In 2002, as he was running for a second term as president, Chirac faced far-right National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen in a second-round runoff and ended up winning the election in a landslide, with 82% of the vote.
During his second term, in 2005, Chirac suffered a stroke, and although he recovered, he announced that he would not run for a third term in 2007. He was succeeded by Nicolas Sarkozy, his former interior minister.
Although Chirac remained popular in France, his reputation was tarnished in 2011 when he was convicted of embezzlement and misusing public funds to finance his political party while he was mayor of Paris.