French think Chirac & de Gaulle were the best post-WWII presidents, Hollande the worst – poll
The French believe that the late Jacques Chirac was one of the best leaders the nation has had since WWII – sharing the top spot with war hero Charles de Gaulle, a new opinion survey reveals.
A new poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) has revealed that 30 percent think Chirac (president between 1995 and 2007) was the best leader of the French Fifth Republic, which was established in 1958. He is as popular as national hero Charles de Gaulle, who led the resistance against the Nazi occupation during WWII and also got 30 percent in the survey.
The second-most-popular president is Chirac’s predecessor, Francois Mitterrand (17 percent), who led France throughout the ‘80s and early ’90s. Current French leader, Emmanuel Macron, garnered only seven percent of support in the poll. Francois Hollande came last with just one percent.
Nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’ during his presidency, Chirac passed away on Thursday at age 86. Despite having been convicted of corruption after leaving office, his popularity steadily grew in recent years, especially among younger people.
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IFOP’s Deputy Director Frederic Dabi, speaking to French media, explained that Chirac’s surge in popularity (compared to only 10 percent back in 2013) was due at least in part to an emotional response to his death – but also recalled that Chirac enjoyed a 70-percent favorability rating in 2009, two years after leaving office and retiring from politics.
The renewed appreciation for the former president could also be due to disappointment in Macron, whose rule has been marred by corruption scandals and almost a year of massive Yellow Vest protests.
When asked to list Chirac’s most important actions as president, 71 percent of respondents recalled his strong opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. They also mentioned Chirac ending military conscription (41 percent) and famously saying “Our house is burning” in reference to climate change (33 percent).
The online poll was conducted on Friday among 1,015 French residents aged 18 or older.
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