Jacques Chirac was the president of France from 1995 to 2007, after serving 18 years as the mayor of Paris. Chirac entered French national politics in the 1950s, inspired by Charles DeGaulle. He held various high level government posts and elected offices throughout his career, including two terms as prime minister (1974-76 and 1986-88). He ran as a conservative candidate in 1995 and was elected to succeed Francois Mitterrand. Chirac caused an uproar in 1997 when he dissolved the parliament, and his power was weakened by the subsequent backlash. Still, in the election of 2002 he opposed the controversial nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen and won re-election handily. As president he weathered criticism for inaction on domestic policies, for flip-flopping on matters of foreign policy and for his connections to political scandals involving fraud and corruption. His popularity at home surged when he strongly opposed George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but dissatisfaction with his domestic policies eventually took their toll and by 2006 his support had dwindled; Chirac left office in 2007 under investigation for corruption during his days as the mayor of Paris. On 15 December 2011 Chirac was convicted of abusing taxpayer funds while mayor and given a two-year prison sentence. The jail sentence was suspended, and the ailing Chirac was not required to go to jail.
Chirac married his wife, Bernadette, in 1956. They have two children: a son, Laurence (b. 1958), and a daughter, Claude (b. 1962).
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