Alain Poher

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Alain Poher
Alain Poher en 1968.JPG
Acting President of the French Republic
Acting Co-Prince of Andorra
In office
2 April 1974 – 27 May 1974
Prime Minister Pierre Messmer
Preceded by Georges Pompidou
Succeeded by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
In office
29 April 1969 – 20 June 1969
Prime Minister Maurice Couve de Murville
Preceded by Charles de Gaulle
Succeeded by Georges Pompidou
President of the Senate
In office
2 October 1968 – 2 October 1992
President
Preceded by Gaston Monnerville
Succeeded by René Monory
President of the European Parliament
In office
7 March 1966 – 11 March 1969
Preceded by Victor Leemans
Succeeded by Mario Scelba
Personal details
Born Alain Émile Louis Marie Poher
(1909-04-17)17 April 1909
Ablon-sur-Seine, France
Died 9 December 1996(1996-12-09) (aged 87)
Paris, France
Political party Popular Republican Movement (before 1967)
Democratic Centre (1967–76)
Centre of Social Democrats (1976–95)
Other political
affiliations
Union for French Democracy (1978–1996)
Spouse(s) Henriette Tugler
Children Marie-Agnès
Marie-Therese
Alma mater Mines ParisTech
Free School of Political Studies
Religion Roman Catholicism

Alain Émile Louis Marie Poher (French: [alɛ̃ pɔɛʁ]; 17 April 1909 – 9 December 1996) was a French centrist politician, affiliated first with the Popular Republican Movement and later with the Democratic Centre. He served as a Senator for Val-de-Marne from 1946 to 1995. He was President of the Senate from 3 October 1968 to 1 October 1992 and, in that capacity, served twice as the country's interim president. Candidate in the 1969 presidential election, he was defeated by Georges Pompidou in the second round.

Life and career[edit]

Poher was born in Ablon-sur-Seine, Val-de-Marne.

He graduated from the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris and later studied law. On 19 August 1938 he married Henriette Tugler, with whom he had one daughter, Marie-Agnès.

His political career began in 1938, when he became a junior executive officer in the Ministry of Finance.

Later he served on several positions before entering Senate:

  • Chairman, Ministry of Finance Liberation Committee (from 20 July 1944)
  • Head of Social Services, Ministry of Finance (from 1 January 1945)
  • Mayor of Ablon-sur-Seine (from 1 January 1946)
  • Sec. of State for Finance and Economic Affairs (Govt. of Robert Schuman)
  • Sec. of State for the Budget (Govt. of Henri Queuille)

A longtime ally and political protégé of Schumann, Poher was elected to the Senate in 1952, where he remained for over 40 years (until 1995). As Senator he continued to serve in some governments and his home town mayor. Like Schuman, he was known for strongly pro-European integration positions, having served as President of the European Parliament (1968–1969).

Interim Presidency of the Republic[edit]

According to the order of succession established by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, the president of the senate assumes the nation's presidential powers and duties following the president's death or resignation, and becomes interim Head of State until the next election.

Poher's first stint as interim president came on 29 April 1969, when Charles de Gaulle resigned. Previously he was one of de Gaulle's most notable political opponents and played a key role in the "no" success in de Gaulle's final referendum.

During his interim Presidency Poher continued to serve as Senate President. However, he resided during this time in the Élysée Palace

Initially Poher tried to recruit General Marie Pierre Kœnig as a candidate for the Presidency and offered him his full support. Kœnig, however, declined to run, citing his poor health and stating that one general should not replace another general as the head of state.

After Kœnig's refusal, Poher himself announced his candidacy. Due to favourable polls he was viewed as the strongest opponent of Georges Pompidou and the only non-Gaullist candidate who had a real opportunity to win the election. Lack of a longstanding party machine, however, hurt his chances.

During his short term in office Poher's main task was overseeing the incoming election, which he himself participated in. However during his tenure he took some major initiatives; for example, he fired longtime de Gaulle confidant Jacques Foccart, a Secretary-General for African Affairs and, unofficially, chief of the Gaullist secret services (he returned to the Élysée after Pompidou's election).

Poher also ordered the directors of France's state-controlled radio and television networks that public media to be politically neutral and not act in the interest of any particular party. His successors followed this precedent. He also ordered the redeployment of a large police force in Paris, staying after the May 1968 events.

During his tenure, Poher served with a Gaullist Government of Prime Minister Maurice Couve de Murville, de Gaulle's close ally. Some even referred to this period as the first cohabitation. Despite sharp political differences, Poher was widely credited for model cooperation with the government.

Despite defeat in the election, due to his accomplishments, Poher, previously largely unknown to the public, developed a large popularity during the interim presidency.

He served again as Interim President in 1974 after Pompidou died in office. This time, however, he did not run for his own term and stepped down after Valéry Giscard d'Estaing was elected.

Political career[edit]

  • Interim President of the French Republic: April–June 1968, April–May 1974

Governmental functions

  • Secretary of State for Budget: September–November 1948
  • Secretary of State for the Navy: 1957–1958

Electoral mandates

European Parliament

Senate

Trivia[edit]

  • His favourite author was Lamartine
  • During his 1969 Presidential bid he was often compared by the U.S. press to Harry Truman, due to his folksy style and succession
  • According to the discredited historical theories of the Priory of Sion, Poher was a Merovingian pretender to the French throne.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Victor Leemans
President of the European Parliament
1966–1969
Succeeded by
Mario Scelba
Preceded by
Gaston Monnerville
President of the Senate
1968–1992
Succeeded by
René Monory
Preceded by
Charles de Gaulle
President of France
Acting

1969
Succeeded by
Georges Pompidou
Preceded by
Georges Pompidou
President of France
Acting

1974
Succeeded by
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles de Gaulle
Co-Prince of Andorra
Acting

1969
Served alongside: Ramon Iglesias i Navarri
Succeeded by
Georges Pompidou
Preceded by
Georges Pompidou
Co-Prince of Andorra
Acting

1974
Served alongside: Joan Martí i Alanis
Succeeded by
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Charles de Gaulle
Honorary Canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Acting

1969
Succeeded by
Georges Pompidou
Preceded by
Georges Pompidou
Honorary Canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Acting

1974
Succeeded by
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing