Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1926-2020) died yesterday Wednesday at his family home in Loir-et-Cher (central France) at 94-year-old victim of coronavirus and surrounded by his family.
“His health had deteriorated and he died from covid-19, the Giscard d’Estaing Foundation explained on Twitter, who specified that” according to his will, his funeral will take place in the strictest family privacy.
VGE, acronym by which it was known in France, had been hospitalized on September 14 at the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris, after suffering “a slight infection of the lungs.” Since mid-November he was hospitalized in the cardiology service of the Trousseau University Hospital Center in Tours.
One of his last public appearances was in September 2019 on the occasion of the funeral of former President Jacques Chirac, who had been his prime minister.
Giscard d’Estaing was born on February 2, 1926 in Coblence (Germany). He enlisted as a volunteer in World War II and participated in the Liberation of Paris. Before reaching the presidency, he was a Deputy for Puy-de-Dôme (1967-1969) and Minister of Economy and Finance (1969-1974).
When he was elected president of France in 1974 He was 48 years old and became the youngest president of the Fifth Republic, until the current president Emmanuel Macron, took away the title, when he arrived at the Elysee at 39 years of age.
His arrival to the presidency It was a breath of fresh air on the Elysee, after the presidencies of General Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou. He embodied a modern, groundbreaking and very European presidency.
During his presidency, he lowered the legal voting age to 18, decriminalized abortion, instituted divorce by mutual consent, expanded the right to appeal to the Constitutional Council, and opted for the high-speed train and nuclear energy.
His seven years at the Elysee Palace were also marked by the economic crisis and two oil shocks and by alleged corruption-related cases in Africa.
He was a one-term president. His defeat in 1981 against the socialist François Mitterrand was a serious blow to him, not only because of the defeat itself, but also because of “the frustration of the unfinished work,” as he explained in his memoirs.
Giscard d’Estaing, a convinced Europeanist, promoted together with the Social Democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the Franco-German axis, European integration and the European Economic and Monetary Union that laid the foundations for the single currency. He was also an MEP between 1980 and 1993 and chaired the Convention dedicated to drafting the European Constitution. His rejection by 55% of the French was a jug of cold water for this convinced Europeanist.