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Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (President of the Republic, France)


Last modified: 2016-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: giscard d'estaing (valéry) |
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Giscard d'Estaing's car flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 April 2016

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A short biography of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (b. 1926) was State Secretary of Finance from 1959 to 1962, then Minister of Finance and Economical Affairs from 1962 to 1966 (under the Presidency of Charles de Gaulle), and Minister of Economy of Finance from 1969 to 1974 (under the Presidency of Georges Pompidou). Founded in 1966, the Fédération nationale des républicains et indépendants (FNRI), transformed in 1977 into the Parti républicain et républicain indépendant (better known as Parti Républicain, or Républicain Indépendant) was his main political support, promoting economical liberalism and European integration.

After the death of President Pompidou in 1974, Giscard defeated in the first round Jacques Chaban-Delmas, the "official" Gaullist candidate, and won the second round against François Mitterrand with 50.81% of the votes, being the youngest President of the 5th Republic until then (48 years). During his mandate, he promoted an "advanced liberal society": legal and voting age was decreased from 21 to 18 years, abortion and divorce by mutual consent were legalized. The state control on prices was lifted, but Giscard's economical program was stopped by the 1976 crisis that ended the "Glorious Thirty" (1945-1975). Prime Minister Jacques Chirac resigned in 1976 and founded the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) as a Gaullist, conservative party; Giscard replied by founding the Union pour la Démocratie Française in 1978, as an umbrella encompassing the liberal, center rightist parties. The rivalry between the two parties and the two leaders increased; the anti-Gaullist witches' hunt applied to the administration achieved the rupture.

After having obtained 18% of the votes in the first round of the 1981 presidential elections, Chirac ambiguously supported Giscard for the second round, refusing to call explicitly his partisans to vote for him. François Mitterrand was eventually elected. Giscard reluctantly admitted his defeat, damaging his image already taunted by several affairs that had broken out at the end of his mandate (some insiders argue that several of them had been fabricated by Gaullist activists, who expected Mitterrand to be elected and be unable to keep the power longer than a few months; Chirac's come-back actually occurred, but slightly later - 14 years - than expected).
Giscard did not withdraw from politic, being severely criticized for his never-ending ambitions; the satiric weekly Le Canard Enchaîné"nastily nicknamed him "L'Ex".. He presided the Regional Council of Auvergne from 1986 to 2004. In 2001, he chaired the Convention on the Future of Europe, which released in 2003 the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.

Ivan Sache, 27 April 2016

Giscard d'Estaing's presidential standard

The personal collection of a gendarmerie officer hired by the Presidential Staff in 1962 for, among other duties, the preparation of the car flags used by the President, as the head of the state (these flags were only used in official events, never during private trips) keeps a car flag, in proportions 2:3 and with equal stripes, charged in the center with the president's emblem (photos).

In his attempt to modernize the presidential lifestyle, Giscard d'Estaing adopted a figurative emblem instead of the traditional initials. His golden emblem was made of fasces surrounded by two laurel branches. Intended as a Republican symbol, which they are actually, the fasces were soon criticized by Giscard's opponents as a fascist symbol; some even found a - totally irrelevant and purely coincidental - similarity between the axe and Pétain's francisque.

Esteban Rivera & Ivan Sache, 27 April 2016

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