Foreign relations of France

France

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Politics and government of
France


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A charter member of the United Nations, France holds one of the permanent seats in the Security Council and is a member of most of its specialized and related agencies.

Relations per wide geographic areas

Europe and Germany

France is a major power in western Europe because of its size, location, strong economy, membership in European organizations, strong military posture, and energetic diplomacy. France generally has worked to strengthen the global economic and political influence of the EU and its role in common European defense and collective security.

It views Franco-German cooperation and the development of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) as the foundation of efforts to enhance European Union security. France cooperates closely with Germany and Spain, but relations with the United Kingdom are historically tense.

United Kingdom



From the Middle Ages onwards, France and England (later Great Britain and later still, the UK) were often enemies, and occasionally allies. However, in the beginning of the 20th century a policy of entente cordiale (cordial agreement) was started. France and the United Kingdom became allies, and despite occasional tensions (such as: the French perception that the British abandoned France in 1940, see Battle of France and Mers-el-Kébir; the perception among some in Britain that the French wrongly opposed the 2003 Invasion of Iraq), remain so to the present day.

A chronic point of contention is the future of the European Union. Under French president Charles de Gaulle, France opposed on several occasions the UK joining the European Economic Community (as the EU was then called). De Gaulle argued that the UK had extensive alliances outside Europe, especially with the United States, and was famously suspicious of its European neighbours. After the UK joined the EEC, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher argued for and won a reduction of its contributions to the EEC budget. As Prime Minister, Tony Blair expressed scepticism at French economic policies, but forged an alliance with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Middle East

The neutrality of this section is disputed.


France's relations with Middle East began during the reign of Louis XIV. To keep Austria from intervening in his ambitions in Western Europe he lent limited support to the Ottoman Empire, the victories of Prince Eugene of Savoy destroyed that plan. In the nineteenth century France together with United Kingdom tried to strengthen the Ottoman Empire, the now “Sick man of Europe”, to resist Russian expansion, culminating in the Crimean War.

France also pursued close relations with the semi-autonomous Egypt. In 1869 French workers completed the Suez Canal. A rivalry emerged between France and Britain for control of Egypt, and eventually Britain emerged victorious by buying out the Egyptian shares of the company before the French had time to act.

After the unification of Germany in 1871 Germany attempted to co-op France's relations with the Ottomans and was quite successful. In World War I the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, and was defeated by France and the United Kingdom. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire France and Britain divided the Middle East between them. France received Syria and Lebanon.

These colonies were granted independence after the Second World War but France still tries to forge cultural and educational bonds between the areas, particularly with Lebanon. Relationships with Syria are more strained, due to the policies of that country. In 2005, France, along with the United States, pressured Syria to evacuate Lebanon.

In the post-WWII era French relations with the Arab Middle East reached a very low point. The war in Algeria between Muslim fighters and French colonists deeply concerned the rest of the Muslim world. The independence fighters received much of their supplies and funding from Egypt and other Arab powers, much to France's displeasure. Most damaging to Franco-Arab relations, however, was the Suez Crisis. It greatly diminished France's reputation in the region. France openly supported the Israeli attack on the Sinai peninsula, and was working against Nasser, then a popular figure in the Middle East. The Suez Crisis also made France and the United Kingdom look again like imperialist powers attempting to impose their will upon weaker nations.

Another hindrance to France's relations with the Arab Middle East was its close alliance with Israel during the 1950s.

This all changed with the coming of Charles de Gaulle to power. De Gaulle's foreign policy was centered around an attempt to limit the power and influence of both superpowers, and at the same time increase France's international prestige. De Gaulle hoped to move France from being a follower of the United States to becoming the leading nation of a large group of non-aligned countries. The nations de Gaulle looked at as potential participants in this grouping were those in France's traditional spheres of influence: Africa and the Middle East. The former French colonies in eastern and northern Africa were quite agreeable to these close relations with France. These nations had close economic and cultural ties to France, and they also had few other suitors amongst the major powers. This new orientation of French foreign policy also appealed strongly to the leaders of the Arab nations. None of them wanted to be dominated by either of the superpowers, and they supported France's policy of trying to balance the US and the USSR and to prevent either from becoming dominant in the region. The Middle Eastern leaders wanted to be free to pursue their own goals and objectives, and did not want to be chained to either alliance block. De Gaulle hoped to use this common foundation to build strong relations between the nations. He also hoped that good relations would improve France's trade with the region. De Gaulle also imagined that these allies would look up to the more powerful French nation, and would look to it in leadership in matters of foreign policy.

The end of the Algerian conflict in 1962 accomplished much in this regard. France could not portray itself as a leader of the oppressed nations of the world if it still was enforcing its colonial rule upon another nation. The battle against the Muslim separatists that France waged in favour of the minority of white settlers was an extremely unpopular one throughout the Muslim world. With the conflict raging it would have been next to impossible for France to have had positive relations with the nations of the Middle East. The Middle Eastern support for the FLN guerillas was another strain on relations that the end of the conflict removed. Most of the financial and material support for the FLN had come from the nations of the Middle East and North Africa. This was especially true of Nasser's Egypt, which had long supported the separatists. Egypt is also the most direct example of improved relations after the end of hostilities. The end of the war brought an immediate thaw to Franco-Egyptian relations, Egypt ended the trial of four French officers accused of espionage, and France ended its trade embargo against Egypt.

In 1967 de Gaulle completely overturned France's Israel policy. De Gaulle and his ministers reacted very harshly to Israel's actions in the Six Day War. The French government and de Gaulle condemned Israel's treatment of refugees, warned that it was a mistake to occupy the Palestinian areas, and also refused to recognize the Israeli control of Jerusalem. The French government continued to criticize Israel after the war and de Gaulle spoke out against other Israeli actions, such as the operations against the PLO in Lebanon. France began to use its veto power to oppose Israel in the UN, and France sided with the Arab states on almost all issues brought to the international body. Most importantly of all, however, de Gaulle's government imposed an arms embargo on the Israeli state. The embargo was in fact applied to all the combatants, but very soon France began selling weaponry to the Arab states again. As early as 1970 France sold Libya a hundred Dassault Mirage fighter jets. However, after 1967 France continued to support Israel's right to exist, as well as Israel's many preferential agreements with France and the European Economic Community.

In the second half of the 20th century, France increased its expenditures in foreign aid greatly, to become second only to the United States in total aid amongst the Western powers and first on a per capita basis. By 1968 France was paying out $855 million dollars per year in aid far more than either West Germany or the United Kingdom. The vast majority of French aid was directed towards Africa and the Middle East, usually either as a lever to promote French interests or to help with the sale of French products (e.g. arms sales). France also increased its expenditures on other forms of aid sending out skilled individuals to developing countries to provide technical and cultural expertise.

The combination of aid money, arms sales, and diplomatic alignments helped to erase the memory of the Suez Crisis and the Algerian War in the Arab world and France successfully developed amicable relationships with the governments of many of the Middle Eastern states. Nasser and de Gaulle, who shared many similarities, cooperated together on limiting American power in the region. Nasser proclaimed France as the only friend of Egypt in the west. France and Iraq also developed a close relationship with business ties, joint military training exercises, and French assistance in Iraq's nuclear program in the 1970s. France's relations with its former colony Syria were improved, and eroded cultural links were partially restored.

In terms of trade France did receive some benefits from the improved relations with the Middle East. French trade with the Middle East increased by over fifty percent after de Gaulle's reforms. The weaponry industries benefited most as France soon had lucrative contracts with many of the regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, though these contracts account for a negligible part of France's economy.

De Gaulle had hoped that by taking a moderate path and not strongly supporting either side France could become integral to the Middle East peace process. However, peace negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab powers have almost always involved representatives of the one or both of the superpowers, but France has been universally excluded. In the Camp David accords between Sadat and Begin US President Jimmy Carter played an immense role, the French played virtually none. The French foreign minister complained that a separate peace between Israel and Egypt would not benefit Middle East peace, but none of the leaders involved were particularly concerned about what the French government thought. This pattern has repeated itself frequently. The Oslo Accords, the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty, and others were all negotiated and written with no input at all from France.

Africa

France plays a significant role in Africa, especially in its former colonies, through extensive aid programs, commercial activities, military agreements, and cultural impact. In those former colonies where the French presence remains important, France contributes to political, military, and social stability. It is often held that French policy in Africa - particularly where British interests are also involved - is susceptible to what is known as 'Fashoda syndrome'. Others have criticized the relationship as neocolonialism under the name Françafrique, stressing France's support of various dictatorships, among others: Omar Bongo, Idriss Déby, Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The French military has been present in Chad since 1986 in the frame of Operation Epervier.

In the period from 1990, until the Rwandan genocide, France (under Mitterrand) took a role sympathetic to the Habyarimana government.

In 2002 and 2003, France participated in military interventions in Côte d'Ivoire (see Operation Licorne and UNOCI, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, helping in the evacuation of foreign residents and the protection of civilians from warring factions.

Concerning European Integration, France and Germany decided on a concerted military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This operation will include sending 1500 European troops to the DRC to support fair and regular presidential elections in June 2006. While Germany will lead the mission, both France and Germany provide 500 soldiers each, with the rest of the soldiers made up of other European countries.

Many scholars of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) question whether the mission is of great use, and argue that it is rather symbolic in character. With 17.000 United Nations forces already deployed in the DRC the purpose of such a small operation remains questionable. The European troops will be stationed in the capital-city Kinshasa only. It is probable however, that the expertise of former peace-building missions on the Balkans will be useful in order to prevent any major escalation during the elections.

Algeria

Further information: French rule in Algeria Algerian War of Independence


Relations between post-colonial Algeria and France have remained close through-out the years, although sometimes difficult. In 1962, the Evian Accords peace treaty laid the foundations of a new Franco-Algerian relationship. In exchange for a generous coopération regime (massive financial, technical and cultural aid), France secured a number of economic and military privileges. Economically, France enjoyed a preferential treatment vis-à-vis the Saharan wealth of hydrocarbons. Militarily, it could keep the Mers-el-Kébir base for 15 years and use the Saharan nuclear test-sites for another five years. France had used these sites to carry out its first nuclear tests (Gerboise bleue) in 1960. 90 % and more of Europeans established in Algeria (pieds-noirs), left the country in a massive exodus creating a difficult void in the bureaucratic, economic and educational structure of Algeria. On the other hand, the issue of the harkis, the Arabs who had fought on the French side during the war, was still to solve at the turn of the 21st century, being somehow disconsiderated by the French while seen as outright traitors by the Algerian people. On the economical level, Algeria remained for some time the fourth largest importer of French goods, conducting all its transactions with France in the Franc zone. Many Algerians were encouraged by French authorities and businessmen to migrate to France in order to provide workforce during the Trente Glorieuses (Thirty Glorious) growth. Relations between France and Algeria have remained closely intertwined, and France could not entirely escape from the chaos which threatened Algeria during the civil war in the nineties.

Ahmed Ben Bella, the first President of Algeria was reported in a 2001 interview as saying that "The Algerian people have lived with blood. We brought De Gaulle to his knees. We struggled against French rule for 15 years under the leadership of Emir Abdel-Kader Al-Jazairi. The Algerian population was then four million. French repression cost us two million lives. It was genocide. We survived as a people. Barbaric French atrocities did not subdue our fighting spirit."[1]

On February 23, 2005 the French law on colonialism was an act passed by the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) conservative majority, which imposed on high-school (lycée) teachers to teach the "positive values" of colonialism to their students (article 4). The law created a public uproar and opposition from the whole of the left-wing, and was finally repealed by president Jacques Chirac (UMP) at the beginning of 2006, after accusations of historical revisionism from various teachers and historians.

Algerians feared that the French law on colonialism would hinder the task the French confronting the dark side of their colonial rule in Algeria because article four of the law decreed among other things that "School programmes are to recognise in particular the positive role of the French presence overseas, especially in North Africa, ..."[2] Benjamin Stora a leading specialist on French Algerian history and an opponent of the French law on colonialism, said "France has never taken on its colonial history. It is a big difference with the Anglo-Saxon countries, where post-colonial studies are now in all the universities. We are phenomenally behind the times."[2] In his opinion, although the historical facts were known to academics, they were not well known by the French public and this led to a lack of honesty in France over French colonial treatment of the Algerian people.[2]

During the period that the French law on colonialism was in force several Algerians and others raised issues and made comments to emphasise that there were many aspects of French colonial rule that were not widely known in France.[2] A senior Algerian official Mohamed El Korso said that "[French] repentance is seen by the Algerian people as a sine qua non before any Franco-Algerian friendship treaty can be concluded." and with reference to the Setif massacre that "French and international public opinion must know that France committed a real act of genocide in May 1945"[2] The Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Algeria had "never ceased waiting for an admission from France of all the acts committed during the colonial period and the war of liberation." and drew comparisons between the burning of the bodies of the victims of the with Setif massacre with the crematoria in the Nazi death camps.[2] More recently on 17 April 2006, Bouteflika emphasised Algera's point of view when said in a speech in Paris that "Colonization brought the genocide of our identity, of our history, of our language, of our traditions".[3]

French authorities responded to the claims by President Bouteflika and others by playing down the comments, urging "mutual respect" French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told Algeria in an official visit to make a common effort to search history "in order to establish a common future and overcome the sad pages". In an interview with El Vatan, an Algerian newspaper, Barnier said that "Historians from two sides must be encouraged to work together. They must work on the common past".[4] French authorities asked president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to study with France the disarmed 150,000 Harkis killed without another reason that revenge, by his party, the National Liberation Front (FLN).

French President Jacques Chirac, upon harsh reactions to the law encouraging the good sides of the French colonial history, made the statement, "Writing history is the job of the historians, not of the laws." According to Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, "speaking about the past or writing history is not the job of the parliament."[5]

The issue of the French human rights record in Algeria is also politically sensitive in Turkey. France recognized Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1998[6]. In response to the action of the French parliament, making it an offense to deny the existence of such a genocide, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey drafted a bill in October 2006 to make it illegal to deny that the French committed genocide in Algeria.[7] Turkish party leaders, including CHP, MHP, BBP and ANAP called France to recognize 'Algerian genocide'. However, the draft never became an official law.

Asia

France has extensive political and commercial relations with Asian countries, including the People's Republic of China, India, Japan, and Southeast Asia as well as an increasing presence in regional fora. France was instrumental in launching the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process which could eventually emerge as a competitor to APEC. France is seeking to broaden its commercial presence in China and will pose a competitive challenge to U.S. business, particularly in aerospace, high-tech, and luxury markets. In Southeast Asia, France was an architect of the Paris Accords, which ended the conflict in Cambodia.

France does not have formal diplomatic relationships with North Korea. North Korea however maintains a delegation (not an embassy nor a consulate) near Paris. As most countries, France does not recognize, nor have formal diplomatic relationships with the Republic of China (Taiwan, capital Taipei), for it is impossible to recognize and have relationships with both the RoC and the People's Republic of China; however, Taiwan maintains a representation office in Paris, similar to an embassy but in name. Likewise, the French Institute in Taipei has an administrative consular section that delivers visas and fulfills other missions normally dealt with by diplomatic outposts.

Japan



Recently France has been very involved in trade and cultural exchange initiatives with Japan. Some people see this as being a result of French leader Jacques Chirac being a Japanophile. Chirac has visited Japan over 40 times, probably more than any other world leader outside of Japan, and is an expert on the country. France has started the export promotion campaign "Le Japon, c'est possible" and the international liaison personnel exchange program JET. Together they built the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris.

France and Japan have also worked together to improve dire health situations from AIDS and underdevelopment in Djibouti, Madagascar, Uganda, and other countries.

Japan and France are also known to share ideas with each other in the realms of art and cooking. Japan has been heavily influenced by French cuisine within the past few decades, as seen on the television show Iron Chef. Anime is popular in France, and French historical figures and settings from medieval, Renaissance, Napoleonic, and World War eras have served as models for certain popular stories in Japanese entertainment. The purity of Japanese painting and illustration, and likewise the modernity and elegance of French visual arts has resulted in hybrid styles in those creative fields.

For more on Franco-Japanese relations visit Japan-France Relations. (English)

India

Enlarge picture
The Indian Air Force has the second largest fleet of France's Mirage 2000H after Armée de l'Air.
France and India established diplomatic relationships soon after India achieved independence in 1947. India's strong diplomatic ties with France resulted in the peaceful cession of Pondicherry to India in 1 November 1954 without any military opposition from France.

France was the only country that did not condemn India's decision to go nuclear in 1998.[1] In 2003, France became the largest supplier of nuclear fuel and technology to India and remains a large military and economic trade partner. India's permanent member aspirations in the UN Security Council have found very strong support from former French President Chirac. The recent decision by the Indian government to purchase French Scorpène class submarines worth 3 billion USD and 43 Airbus aircraft for Indian Airlines worth 2.5 billion USD has further cemented the strategic, military and economic co-operation between India and France.

North America

Main articles: Canada-France relations, Franco-American relations

Relations between Canada and France are friendly and stable, with the possible exception of issues surrounding Quebec's status in Canada.

Relations between the United States and France are active and cordial. Mutual visits by high-level officials are conducted on a regular basis and bilateral contact at the cabinet level is active. France and the United States cooperate closely on some issues (such as anti-terrorism) but differ on others (such as the Israel-Palestine conflict and a number of trade issues). Differences are discussed frankly. The largest current fallout between the United States and France involves the Iraq War, and some aspects of the post-September 11 War on Terror, e.g., CIA "extraordinary renditions".

New Zealand

New Zealand has always had excellent relations with France, which recently thanked New Zealand for helping it during German occupations of World War I and II. The relations were strained for a short period in the late 20th Century, however, over the French nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll and the Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.

Colombia

Relations with Colombia have been dimmed, by the Ingrid Betancourt issue since 2002; in that year, Ingrid a French citizen and candidate to the presidency of Colombia, was kidnapped by the terrorist organization FARC, France regularly pushes the Colombian government to liberate as many terrorists as it takes to get Ingrid; Colombia recently had to consent with this efforts and in June 4th. 2007; 30 guerrillas were liberated, including the leader Rodrigo Granda, the FARC has not liberated Ingrid to this day though.

Foreign relations by presidential term

Fifth Republic

Further information: French Fifth Republic

François Mitterrand

Jacques Chirac

Main article: Foreign policy of Jacques Chirac

Nicolas Sarkozy

Main articles: Presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign policy of Nicolas Sarkozy


Shortly after taking office, President Sarkozy began negotiations with Colombian president Álvaro Uribe and the left-wing guerrilla FARC, regarding the release of hostages held by the rebel group, especially Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt. According to some sources, Sarkozy himself asked for Uribe to release FARC's "chancellor" Rodrigo Granda. [8]. Furthermore, he announced on 24 July, 2007, that French and European representatives had obtained the extradition of the Bulgarian nurses detained in Libya to their country. In exchange, he signed with Gaddafi security, health care and immigration pacts — and a $230 million (168 million euros) MILAN antitank missile sale [9]. The contract was the first made by Libya since 2004, and was negotiated with MBDA, a subsidiary of EADS. Another 128 millions euros contract would have been signed, according to Tripoli, with EADS for a TETRA radio system. The Socialist Party (PS) and the Communist Party (PCF) criticized a "state affair" and a "barter" with a "Rogue state" [10]. The leader of the PS, François Hollande, requested the opening of a parliamentary investigation [9].

On June 8, 2007, during the 33rd G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Sarkozy set a goal of reducing French CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 in order to prevent global warming. He then pushed forward the important Socialist figure of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as European nominee to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [11]. Critics alleged that Sarkozy proposed to nominate Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF to deprive the Socialist Party of one of its more popular figures[12].

International organization participation:

ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, FZ, G-5, G-7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, InOC, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MINURSO, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO (withdrew from integrated military command in 1966), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, Zangger Committee

International disputes

References

1. ^ "Ahmed Ben Bella: Plus ça change", Al-Ahram Weekly, 2001-05-16. 
2. ^ Hugh Schofiel. "Colonial abuses haunt France", BBC News, 2005-05-16. 
3. ^ "Algerian leader calls colonisation 'genocide'", The Scotsman, 2006-04-18. 
4. ^ "Paris' game turns against due to Algeria", Diplomatic Observer. 
5. ^ "France in Favor of So-Called Genocide Resorts to Historians", Zaman Online, 2005-12-10. 
6. ^ "French recognizes Armenian Genocide", BBC News, 1998-05-29. 
7. ^ "Turkish parliamentary committee drafts law on Algerian genocide", NTV-MSNBC, 2006-10-11. 
8. ^ Llama G8 a FARC contribuir a liberación de rehenes, La Cronica, June 8, 2007 (Spanish)
9. ^ Molly Moore, France's Sarkozy Off to a Running Start, Washington Post, August 4, 2007 (English)
10. ^ Tripoli annonce un contrat d'armement avec la France, l'Elysée dans l'embarras, Le Monde, 2 August 2007 (French)
11. ^ FMI : Strauss-Kahn candidat officiel de l’Union européenne, Le Figaro, 10 July 2007 (French)
12. ^ Reuters, "France's Sarkozy wants Strauss-Kahn as IMF head" Sat Jul 7, 2007 2:38PM EDT read here (English)

See also

External links

Motto
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Anthem
"La Marseillaise"


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Politics of France take place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of France is head of state and the Prime Minister of France head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system.
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Gaullism (French: Gaullisme) is a French political ideology based on the thought and action of Charles de Gaulle.

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The main doctrinal component of Gaullism is a desire for France's independence from foreign power, but there are also social and economic
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The French presidential of 1958, the first of the French Fifth Republic, took place on December 21, 1958. This was the only French presidential election by the electoral college (gathering the members of the French parliament, the members of Conseils Généraux
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The 1965 French presidential election was the first presidential election by direct universal suffrage of the French Fifth Republic. It was also the first presidential election by direct universal suffrage since 1848.
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The 1969 French presidential election occurred due to the resignation of President Charles de Gaulle.

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Georges Pompidou Union for the Defense of the Republic (UDR) 10,051,816 44.
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Presidential elections were held in France in 1974, following the death of President Georges Pompidou. They went to a second round, and were won by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing by a margin of 1.6%.
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The French presidential election of 1981 was won by François Mitterrand, the first Socialist president of the Fifth Republic. In the first round of voting, 10 candidates stood for election, from both the Left and Right of French politics.
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Presidential elections were held in France on 24 April and 8 May 1988.

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Presidential elections took place in France on 23 April and 7 May 1995, to elect the fifth president of the Fifth Republic.

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The 2002 French presidential election consisted of a first round election on 21 April, 2002, and a runoff election between the top two candidates (Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen) on 5 May, 2002.
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