WHY DON’T YOU COME ON OVER, VALERY?
Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing has died aged 94, a victim of a popular tag team in 2020: heart problems and covid. d’Estaing was President of France inbetween two modern era of French history: de Gaulle and Pompidou as his predecessors, Mitterand and Chirac as his successors. He fought two close elections with Francois Mitterand, winning the first one in 1974, but losing the rematch in 1981. In government, he aimed to liberalise France. Among his many achievements included the expansion of health care, increasing the minimum wage and liberalising divorce laws. His government legalised abortion to great public scandal, but his government was undone by the tax increases in the wave of the oil crisis recession. (An event which occurred before he became President.)
The tipping point for re-election surrounded the Death Penalty. Giscard d’Estaing was known for his aversion to execution, and had selected many abolitionists to Cabinet roles. Yet, wary of the public backlash against the policy, he lacked the political courage to abolish it, and so the final irony arose when Mitterand himself came out for abolition, ran on it, and having stolen d’Estaing’s politics, beat him in an election on the pledge. Chirac, who had been PM, also ran, created an enmity between the two that lasted till death.
Internationally, he was a huge supporter of the European Council, becoming one of the chief architects of the European constitution, and one of the main instigators behind the formation of the G7. Along with West Germany he helped set up the European Monetary System. As well as changing the face of Europe, and France (and the transport of France too with their modern rail system), Valery Giscard d’Estaing also wrote a romance novel about a French President who gets off with a young princess. If he got the idea from the long running rumour he shagged Princess Diana, we can’t confirm…
Valery Giscard d’Estaing
2 February 1926 – 2 December 2020