Georges Pompidou

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Georges Pompidou
Georges Pompidou - Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F020538-0006.jpg
President of the French Republic
Co-Prince of Andorra
In office
20 June 1969 – 2 April 1974
Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Pierre Messmer
Preceded by Charles de Gaulle
Succeeded by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Prime Minister of France
In office
14 April 1962 – 10 July 1968
President Charles de Gaulle
Preceded by Michel Debré
Succeeded by Maurice Couve de Murville
Member of the Constitutional Council
In office
5 March 1959 – 14 April 1962
Nominated by Charles de Gaulle
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Bernard Chenot
Personal details
Born Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou
(1911-07-05)5 July 1911
Montboudif, France
Died 2 April 1974(1974-04-02) (aged 62)
Paris, France
Political party Union for the New Republic (Before 1968)
Union of Democrats for the Republic (1968–1974)
Spouse(s) Claude Cahour
Children Alain Pompidou
Alma mater Superior Normal School, Paris
Free School of Political Studies
Religion Roman Catholicism

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou (French: [ʒɔʁʒ pɔ̃pidu]; 5 July 1911 – 2 April 1974) was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968, holding the longest tenure in this position, and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974.


He was born in the commune of Montboudif, in the department of Cantal in central France.[1] After his khâgne at Lycée Louis-le-Grand, where he befriended Senegalese future poet and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor, he graduated from the École Normale Supérieure with a degree of Agrégation in literature.

He first taught literature at the lycée Henri IV in Paris until hired in 1953 by Guy de Rothschild to work at Rothschild. In 1956, he was appointed the bank's general manager, a position he held until 1962. Later, he was hired by Charles de Gaulle to manage the Anne de Gaulle Foundation for Down syndrome (de Gaulle's daughter Anne had Down's Syndrome).

Prime Minister[edit]

He served as prime minister under de Gaulle after Michel Debré resigned, from 16 April 1962 to 21 July 1968, and to this day is the longest serving French prime minister under the Fifth Republic. His nomination was controversial because he was not a member of the National Assembly. In October 1962, he was defeated in a vote of no-confidence, but de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly. The Gaullists won the legislative election and Pompidou was reappointed as Prime Minister. In 1964, he was faced with a miners' strike. He led the 1967 legislative campaign of the Union of Democrats for the Fifth Republic to a narrow victory. Pompidou was widely regarded as being responsible for the peaceful resolution of the student uprising of May 1968. His strategy was to break the coalition of students and workers by negotiating with the trade-unions and employers (Grenelle conference). Until this crisis, he was the Prime Minister of a quiet and prosperous France.

However, during the events of May 1968, disagreements arose between Pompidou and de Gaulle. Pompidou did not understand why the President did not inform him of his departure to Baden-Baden on 29 May. Their relationship, until then very good, would be strained from then on. Pompidou led and won the 1968 legislative campaign, leading to a tremendous victory of the Gaullist Party, then resigned. Nevertheless, in part due to his actions during the May 1968 crisis, he appeared as the natural successor to de Gaulle. Pompidou announced his candidature for the Presidency in January 1969. Some weeks later, his wife's name was mentioned in the Markovic scandal, thus appearing to confirm her husband's status as a cuckold. Pompidou was certain that de Gaulle's inner circle was responsible for this smear.

In social policy, Pompidou's tenure as prime minister witnessed the establishment of the National Employment Fund in 1963 to counter the negative effects on employment caused by industrial restructuring.[2]


After the failure of the 1969 constitutional referendum de Gaulle resigned and Pompidou was elected president of France.[3] In the general election of 15 June 1969, he defeated the centrist President of the Senate and Acting President Alain Poher by a wide margin (57%–42%).[4] Though a Gaullist, Pompidou was more pragmatic than de Gaulle, notably facilitating the accession of the United Kingdom to the European Community on 1 January 1973. He embarked on an industrialisation plan and initiated the Arianespace project, as well as the TGV project, and furthered the French civilian nuclear programme. He was sceptical about the "New Society" programme of his prime minister, Jacques Chaban-Delmas. In 1972, Chaban-Delmas was replaced by Pierre Messmer, a more conservative Gaullist.

While the left-wing opposition organised itself in proposing a Common Programme before the 1973 legislative election, Pompidou widened out his "presidential majority" by including the Centrist pro-European parties.

Pompidou's time in office was marked by constant efforts to modernise France's capital city. This can be seen through his construction of a modern art museum, the Centre Beaubourg (renamed Centre Pompidou after his death), on the edge of the Marais area of Paris. Other attempts at modernisation included tearing down the open air markets at Les Halles and replacing it with the shopping mall of the same name, building the Montparnasse Tower, and constructing an expressway on the right bank of the Seine.

Death in office[edit]

While still in office, Pompidou died unexpectedly on 2 April 1974, 9 PM,[5] from Waldenström's macroglobulinemia.

Pompidou's wife Claude Pompidou lived more than thirty years past his death. The couple had one son, Alain Pompidou, former president of the European Patent Office.

France withdrew from the Eurovision Song Contest 1974, which took place just four days after Pompidou's death as a mark of respect.


  • Anthologie de la Poésie Française, Livre de Poche/Hachette, 1961
  • Le Nœud gordien, éd. Plon, 1974
  • Entretiens et discours, deux vol., éd. Plon, 1975
  • Pour rétablir une vérité, éd. Flammarion, 1982


Second ministry, 28 November 1962 – 8 January 1966[edit]


  • 23 July 1964 – François Missoffe leaves the cabinet. He is not replaced as Minister of Repatriates
  • 22 February 1965 – Gaston Palewski leaves the ministry and is not replaced.

Third ministry, 8 January 1966 – 6 April 1967[edit]

Fifth ministry, 30 May – 10 July 1968[edit]


  • "There are three roads to ruin; women, gambling and technicians. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the surest is with technicians."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wall, E. H. (1976). "Pompidou, Georges Jean Raymond". In William D. Halsey. Collier's Encyclopedia 19. Macmillan Educational Corporation. p. 236. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ United Press International (2011). "1969 Year in Review: Charles DeGaulle Defeated". United Press International, Inc. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Berstein, Serge; Rioux, Jean-Pierre (2000). The Cambridge History of Modern France: The Pompidou Years, 1969–1974. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 14–15. ISBN 0-521-58061-7. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Declaration of vacancy, Constitutional Council of France
  6. ^ Georges Pompidou Quotes at
Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Debré
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Maurice Couve de Murville
Preceded by
Alain Poher
President of France
Succeeded by
Alain Poher
Party political offices
New political party Union of Democrats for the Republic nominee for President of France
Succeeded by
Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Alain Poher
Co-Prince of Andorra
Served alongside: Ramon Malla Call (Acting), Joan Martí i Alanis
Succeeded by
Alain Poher
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alain Poher
Honorary Canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Succeeded by
Alain Poher