Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou

[pom-pi-doo; Fr. pawn-pee-doo]
Pompidou, Georges Jean Raymond, 1911-74. French political leader, president of France (1969-74). Georges Pompidou taught school and then served in World War II until the fall (1940) of France, when he returned to teaching. In 1944 he served on the staff of General de Gaulle and later became a trusted aide. Joining the Rothschild banking firm in 1954, he soon became its director-general. He remained an important adviser to de Gaulle, and in 1962 President de Gaulle named him premier. During the 1968 strikes and riots in France, Pompidou emerged as a strong figure. Not long afterward, however, he was dismissed as premier by de Gaulle. After de Gaulle's resignation in 1969, Pompidou was elected president with the solid support of the Gaullist party. He immediately began to deal with France's economic problems, devaluing the franc and instituting a price freeze. In foreign affairs, he attempted to improve French relations with other countries and rejected de Gaulle's policy of opposition to Great Britain's entry into the European Community. Despite rumors that he was gravely ill Pompidou remained in office; he died of cancer.

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou (5 July 1911 2 April 1974) was President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974.

Biography

He was born in the commune of Montboudif, in the department of Cantal in central France. After his khâgne at Lycée Louis-le-Grand, where he befriended Senegalese poet and statesman Léopold Sedar Senghor, he graduated from the École Normale Supérieure with a degree of Agrégation in literature.

He first taught literature at a lycée until hired in 1953 by Guy de Rothschild to work at de Rothschild Frères. In 1956, he was appointed the bank's general manager, a position he held until 1962. Later, he was hired by Charles de Gaulle to manage the Anne de Gaulle Foundation for Down's Syndrome (de Gaulle's daughter Anne had Down's Syndrome).

He served as prime minister under de Gaulle after Michel Debré resigned, from 16 April 1962 to 21 July 1968, and to this day is the longest serving French prime minister under the Fifth Republic. His nomination was controversial because he was not a member of the National Assembly. In October 1962, he was defeated by a vote of non-confidence, but de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly. The Gaullists won the legislative election and Pompidou was reappointed as Prime Minister. In 1964, he was faced with a miners' strike. He led the 1967 legislative campaign of the Union of Democrats for the Fifth Republic to a narrow victory. Pompidou was widely regarded as being responsible for the peaceful resolution of the student uprising of May 1968. His strategy was to break the coalition of students and workers by negotiating with the trade-unions and employers (Grenelle conference). Until this crisis, he was the Prime Minister of a quiet and prosperous France.

However, during the events of May 1968, disagreements arose between Pompidou and de Gaulle. Pompidou did not understand why the President did not inform him of his departure to Baden-Baden on 29 May. Their relationship, until then very good, would be strained from then on. Pompidou led and won the 1968 legislative campaign, then resigned. Nevertheless, in part due to his actions during the May 1968 crisis, he appeared as the natural successor to de Gaulle. Pompidou announced his candidature for the Presidency in January 1969. Some weeks later, his wife's name was mentioned in the Markovic scandal, thus appearing to confirm her husband's status as a cuckold. Pompidou was certain that de Gaulle's inner circle was responsible for this smear.

After the failure of the 1969 referendum, de Gaulle resigned and Pompidou was elected president of France, defeating in the second round by a wide margin the Centrist chairman of the Senate and Acting President Alain Poher. Though a Gaullist, Pompidou was more pragmatic than de Gaulle, notably allowing the United Kingdom to join the European Community in 1973. He embarked on an industrialisation plan and initiated the Arianespace project. He was sceptical about the "New Society" programme of his prime minister, Jacques Chaban-Delmas. In 1972, Chaban-Delmas was replaced by Pierre Messmer, a more conservative Gaullist.

While the left-wing opposition got organized in proposing a Common Programme before the 1973 legislative election, he widened out his "presidential majority" by including the Centrist pro-European parties.

While still in office, Pompidou unexpectedly died from Waldenström macroglobulinemia in 1974.

Pompidou was survived by his wife Claude Pompidou (1912–2007) by more than 30 years.

Pompidou had one foster son, Alain Pompidou, former president of the European Patent Office.

Pompidou's time in office was marked by a constant effort to modernize France's capital city. This can be seen through his construction of a modern art museum, the Centre Beaubourg (renamed Centre Pompidou after his death), on the edge of the Marais area of Paris. Other attempts at modernization included tearing down the open air markets at Les Halles and replacing it with a metro/RER station, building the Montparnasse tower, and constructing an expressway on the right bank of the Seine.

First Ministry, 4 November - 28 November 1962

Changes

  • 15 May 1962 - Gilbert Grandval succeeds Bacon as Minister of Labour. Roger Dusseaulx succeeds Buron as Minister of Public Works and Transport. Raymond Marcellin succeeds Fontanet as Minister of Public Health and Population. Georges Gorse succeeds Pflimlin as Minister of Cooperation.
  • 15 October 1962 - Louis Joxe succeeds Sudreau as interim Minister of National Education

Second Ministry, 28 November 1962 - 8 January 1966

Changes

  • 23 July 1964 - François Missoffe leaves the cabinet. He is not replaced as Minister of Repatriates
  • 22 February 1965 - Gaston Palewski leaves the ministry and is not replaced.

Third Ministry, 8 January 1966 - 6 April 1967

Fourth Ministry, 6 April 1967 - 30 May 1968

Changes

Fifth Ministry, 30 May - 10 July 1968

Writings by Georges Pompidou

  • Anthologie de la Poésie Française, Livre de Poche/Hachette, 1961

See also

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