(1932-) French conservative politician, prime minister 1974–76 and 1986–88, and president from 1995. He established the neo-Gaullist Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) 1976, and became mayor of Paris 1977.
Chirac held ministerial posts during the Pompidou presidency and gained the nickname “the Bulldozer”. In 1974 he became prime minister to President Giscard d’Estaing, but the relationship was uneasy. Chirac contested the 1981 presidential election and emerged as the National Assembly leader for the parties of the right during the socialist administration of 1981–86.
Following the rightist coalition’s victory 1986, Chirac was appointed prime minister by President Mitterrand in a “cohabitation” experiment. The term was marked by economic decline, nationality reforms, and student unrest. Student demonstrations in autumn 1986 forced him to scrap plans for educational reform. He stood in the May 1988 presidential elections and was defeated by Mitterrand, who replaced him with the moderate socialist Michel Rocard.
He was elected president 1995 with a comfortable majority over his socialist rival Lionel Jospin.