Giscard d'Estaing, Valéry

Giscard d'Estaing, Valéry välārē´ zhēskär´ dĕstăN´ [key], 1926–, French political leader, president of France (1974–81); b. Germany. A member of the national assembly at the age of 29, he was deputy finance minister (1959–62) and finance minister (1962–66) in Charles de Gaulle's government. He held the latter post again in 1969 under President Georges Pompidou, supporting European economic integration and closer ties with the United States. Leader of the Independent Republicans, a conservative group allied with the Gaullists, he ran for president after Pompidou's death in 1974, defeating Socialist François Mitterrand. After losing to Mitterrand in 1981, he returned (1984–89, 1993–97) to the national assembly, playing a major role in unifying France's right wing. Giscard has also served in the European Parliament (1989–93) and president of the Auvergne regional council (1986–2004). In 2001 he was appointed president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, which was charged with drafting a new constitution for the European Union; the draft failed to win EU approval in 2003, but a revised constitution was signed in 2004.

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