Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

Feb 2, 1926 - Dec 2, 2020

Valéry René Marie Georges Giscard d'Estaing, also known as Giscard or VGE, was a French politician who served as President of France from 1974 to 1981.
After serving as Minister of Finance under Prime Ministers Jacques Chaban-Delmas and Pierre Messmer, he won the presidential election of 1974 with 50.8% of the vote against François Mitterrand of the Socialist Party. His tenure was marked by a more liberal attitude on social issues—such as divorce, contraception and abortion—and attempts to modernise the country and the office of the presidency, notably overseeing such far-reaching infrastructure projects as the TGV and the turn towards reliance on nuclear power as France's main energy source. Giscard d'Estaing launched the Grande Arche, Musée d'Orsay, Arab World Institute and Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie projects in the Paris region, later included in the Grands Projets of François Mitterrand. He promoted liberalisation of trade. However, his popularity suffered from the economic downturn that followed the 1973 energy crisis, marking the end of the "Trente Glorieuses". He was forced to impose austerity budgets and allow unemployment to rise in order to avoid deficits.
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