Coronavirus — Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Dies

  • He carried out several emblematic social reforms during his seven years in office, from 1974 to 1981.
  • The former leader’s death has sparked numerous messages of condolences, especially from among the French political class.
  • “Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was also, and increasingly, a great European,” current President Macron said.

Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing died Wednesday, at the age of 94. President Giscard d’Estaing, who had been briefly hospitalized several times in recent months, died of COVID-19, according to his family. In accordance with his wishes, the former president’s funeral will take place in strict family privacy.

A Modern and Reformist President

The newly elected French president was committed to European unity.

The late former president embodied a groundbreaking and very modern presidency. He carried out several emblematic social reforms during his seven years in office, from 1974 to 1981.

Among them, President Giscard d’Estaing legalized abortion, allowed divorce “by mutual agreement,” reduced the legal age of majority to 18 years, and reformed the Constitutional Council.

His desire to “modernize” the country was especially evident during his first two years at the Elysee Palace. Several controversies marked his mandate, in particular, alleged cases of corruption related to Africa, as well as the economic and social crisis caused by the oil crises.

Very active until a few years ago, in recent times his delicate state of health separated him from the media. One of his last public appearances was on September 30, 2019, on the occasion of the funeral for another former president, Jacques Chirac.

Messages Of Condolence

The former leader’s death has sparked numerous messages of condolences, especially from among the French political class. Former conservative President, Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom he had a close relationship, has shown his “deep sadness” over the death of “a man who honored France.”

“It is with great sadness that I learn of the death of Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who worked all his life to strengthen the ties between European nations, sought and succeeded in modernizing political life, and devoted his great intelligence to the analysis of the most complex international problems,” said former president Sarkozy. 

Political allies in 1969, Giscard d’Estaing (l) and Jacques Chirac would later become rivals for the presidency.

His successor in office, the socialist, François Hollande, has described Giscard d’Estaing as one who “will remain the president who modernized France.” Hollande said in a statement posted to Twitter, “today, our country has lost a statesman who chose to open up to the world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute to his predecessor, describing him as a “transformist,” whose seven-year term “transformed France.”

“His death has plunged the French nation into mourning,” Macron said of the former president. President Macron described him as one who was “a servant of the state, a politician of progress and freedom.”

“Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was also, and increasingly, a great European,” Macron added, in a lengthy statement released by the Élysée Palace. President Macron added:

“Creation of the European Council, election of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage, establishment of the monetary union, founding of the European Space Agency: all these milestones bear his mark.”

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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