Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

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Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing (French pronunciation: [valeʁi maʁi ʁəne ʒɔʁʒ ʒiskaʁ dɛsˈtɛ̃]; born 2 February 1926) is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981. As of 2010, he is a member of the Constitutional Council of France.

His tenure as President was marked by a more liberal attitude on social issues — such as divorce, contraception, and abortion — and attempts to modernize the country and the office of the presidency, notably launching such far-reaching infrastructure projects as the high-speed TGV train and the turn towards reliance on nuclear power as France's main energy source. However, his popularity suffered from the economic downturn that followed the 1973 energy crisis, marking the end of the "thirty glorious years" after World War II, unfortunately combined with the official discourse that the "end of the tunnel was near". Furthermore, Giscard faced political opposition from both sides of the spectrum: from the newly-unified left of François Mitterrand, and from a rising Jacques Chirac, who resurrected Gaullism on a right-wing opposition line. All this, plus bad public relations, caused his unpopularity to grow at the end of his term, and he failed to secure re-election in 1981.

He is a proponent of the United States of Europe and, having limited his involvement in national politics after his defeat, he became involved with the European Union. He notably presided over the Convention on the Future of the European Union that drafted the ill-fated Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. He took part, with a prominent role, to the annually held Bilderberg private conference. He also became involved in the regional politics of Auvergne, serving as president of that region from 1986 to 2004. He was elected to the French Academy, taking the seat that his friend and former President of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor had held. As a former President, he is a member of the Constitutional Council. It is a prerogative that he has taken recently.

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