Raffarin, Jean-Pierre

Raffarin, Jean-Pierre zhäN-pyĕr räfärăNˈ [key], 1948–, French politician. From a political family, he began his career in business and served as a spokesman for a labor minister in the late 1970s before returning to the private sector. A conservative, Raffarin turned permanently to politics in 1988 when he became president of the Poitou-Charentes regional council; shortly thereafter he was elected to the European Parliament. From 1995 to 1997 he was the minister for small business, also becoming an adviser to President Jacques Chirac. The low-key, self-effacing Raffarin was appointed interim premier after the president's reelection in May, 2002, replacing Lionel Jospin. Six weeks later, after Chirac's coalition won a landslide parliamentary victory, Raffarin became premier. He worked for government decentralization, lower taxes, limited public deficits, and aid to children and schools, and framed changes in France's pension laws (2003) that were designed to preserve the financial health of the French pension system. When voters rejected a new EU constitution in 2005, however, he resigned as premier and was succeeded by Dominique de Villepin. Raffarin, who was first elected to the French senate in 1995, has continued to serve there.

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