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Raymond Poincaré

Poincaré, Raymond (rāmôNˈ pwăNkärāˈ) [key], 1860–1934, French statesman, president of France (1913–20); cousin of Jules Henri Poincaré. A member of the chamber of deputies from 1887, he held numerous cabinet posts from 1893 to 1906. In 1912 he became premier and foreign minister, and in 1913 he was elected to succeed Armand Fallières as president. A conservative and a nationalist, he proceeded to strengthen France to face possible hostilities. A bill increasing military service to three years was passed, and French alliances with Great Britain and Russia were tightened. During World War I, Poincaré called on (1917) Georges Clemenceau to form a new cabinet, despite his personal hatred of the man. After the war Poincaré called for harsh punishment of Germany and for adequate guarantees of French security. He regarded the Treaty of Versailles as too lenient. On completing his presidential term, Poincaré returned to the senate, which he had entered first in 1903, and became a leader of the bloc national, a coalition of conservative parties. This brought him again to the premiership and the ministry of foreign affairs in 1922. In the face of Germany's failure to pay the heavy reparations assigned by the peace treaty, Poincaré sent French troops to occupy the Ruhr in 1923. He failed, however, to coerce Germany into paying its reparations, and in May, 1924, he was forced to resign following the conservatives' defeat in the general elections. Financial crisis returned him to office in 1926. He retained Aristide Briand, who supported cooperation with Germany, as his foreign minister. To deal with the financial situation, Poincaré pursued an extreme deflationary policy, balancing the budget and securing (1928) the stabilization of the franc at one fifth of its former value. He retired from office in 1929 but continued to preach the need for security and to proclaim his opposition to treaty revision. Among Poincaré's writings are How France Is Governed (tr. 1919) and his memoirs (tr. 1926).

See S. Huddleston, Poincaré (1924); G. Wright, Poincaré and the French Presidency (1942, repr. 1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies


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