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Jacques Chirac, 2003. Wikipedia

French mourn the death of Jacques Chirac

A day after his death, Jacques Chirac has become a national hero. Two-thirds of those polled said they were saddened by the death of the 22nd President of the French Republic.

Published: September 27, 2019, 7:39 am

    According to a poll Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting for Franceinfo, nearly eight in ten respondents (79 percent) believe he was a good president of the Republic. It is a popularity rating that exploded with the announcement of his disappearance: in May 2015, only 63 percent of the French considered he had been a good head of state.

    Among these favorable opinions, LR voters are the most numerous, as 93 percent of them say that Jacques Chirac was a good president. At LREM, eight out of ten supporters (80 percent) have the same opinion.

    Three-quarters of the relatives of the Socialist Party, EELV or the RN (75 percent) and two-thirds of the unsubscribers (65 percent) also recognized this quality in the former head of state. This positive rating is explained in particular by the fact that Jacques Chirac was perceived as friendly by nine French in ten (90 percent), close to people and embodying France by 87 percent of respondents. The former president was also considered a charismatic personality for 83 percent of respondents, or dynamic (75 percent).

    This popularity is also due to his achievements and the events that marked his two terms. Most notable is its opposition to the war in Iraq in 2003, for 63 percent of respondents. His election against Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002 is cited by only 30 percent of respondents, preceded by the end of military service and professionalization of the French army (37 percent).

    But the French also cite other less glorious events for Jacques Chirac’s two terms. They mention, for example, the dissolution of the National Assembly in 1997 (24 percent of them), the victory of the “no” in the referendum on the European constitution (23 percent), the strikes of 1995 (20 percent) or the move against the CPE – first hiring contract – (8 percent).

    Nevertheless, two-thirds of French people (67 percent) said they were saddened by the death of Jacques Chirac, whatever their political orientation. In particular, it affects more than eight out of ten LR sympathizers (86 percent). On the LREM side, 78 percent say they are sad, 70 percent with the Socialist Party and 65 percent with EELV.

    Even at the RN and LFI, the death of the former head of state sad, some 58 percent of the voters of Marine Le Pen and 59 percent of those of Jean-Luc Mélenchon say they are moved.

    In the wake of the death of the former President of the Republic, the Elysée announced a day of national mourning.

    The death of Jacques Chirac on Thursday, September 26, has upset the political agenda to the point that Emmanuel Macron canceled his visit to Rodez (Aveyron) – it was planned as the first debate on the pension reform – to go to the residence of the Chirac family, according to FranceInfo.

    The Elysée has announced a day of national mourning for Monday, September 30. The national mourning is a practice which was previously observed for François Mitterand, on January 11, 1996, and for the victims of the attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, on July 16, 17 and 18, 2016.

    It will consist of half-masting flags on public buildings and to respect a minute of silence. In total, the Fifth Republic only observed this ritual seven times. There is also a solemn service on the same day, at noon, at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris. The Elysée also announced that it will open its doors exceptionally from 21h until Sunday “for the French who wish to express their condolences”.

    Tributes and other ceremonies will also be multiplied in the rest of France. During the day, the mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, promised on BFMTV that he would organise a religious ceremony in memory of the late president.

    Leaders of the world have paid tribute to him, including Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin share this political longevity with Jacques Chirac who died at the age of 86 on Thursday, September 26, said his son-in-law, Frédéric Salat-Baroux, husband of Claude Chirac.

    They paid tribute to the fifth president of the Fifth Republic of France: “I am very saddened by the announcement of the death of Jacques Chirac,” said Angela Merkel in a tweet. She added that “he was for us, Germans, a great partner and a friend”.

    On the other side of Europe, Vladimir Putin also greeted a man who was “wise and visionary”. In a long interview with the Financial Times, the strong man of the Kremlin named Chirac as the modern leader whom he admired most, describing him as a “true intellectual, a teacher, a ponderous and interesting man (…). When he was president, he had his own opinion on every issue and he knew how to defend it by always respecting the opinions of his partners”.

    On the other side of the Channel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “great politician who shaped his nation’s destiny in a career spanning four decades”. The supporter of a hard Brexit even gave sent a message written in French: “All my condolences today to his family, to his children and to the French people.

    Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told France24 that he had “always had great admiration for him and his commitment to France”. He also noticed the man’s charisma: “He looked like a French president. He had a certain way of being, a behavior,” Blair noted while praising his intellectual abilities.

    Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has recognized one of the “greatest men” that France has known, according to him, reported Le Parisien . “The Lebanese and the Arabs today feel the (pain after) the loss of a man who has deeply marked their conscience for many years,” he said in a statement. His sentiment was shared by Morocco and its king, Mohammed VI, who hailed “the memory of a great statesman who dedicated his life to politics with determination, nobility and a constant concern for the welfare of his fellow citizens”, reported HuffPost Maghreb.

    “The Kingdom of Morocco will cherish the memory of a great friend who has actively contributed to the consolidation of the relations of friendship between our two countries by erecting them in an exceptional partnership. This partnership, unique in its kind, is now the reference of our cooperation.”

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