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Georges Pompidou

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Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou trained as a teacher at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (he was himself the son of a school teacher).

He then worked on Charles de Gaulle’s personal staff during his premiership (1944 – 46) before joining Rothschild’s Bank and becoming its director-general in 1954. By 1958 he was once again head of de Gaulle’s personal staff.

Pompidou was involved in the negotiations surrounding the drafting of the new French constitution in 1958 and was appointed to the new Constitutional Council in 1959.

For a politician of his generation, he was exceptional in attaining high political office having neither participated in the Resistance during WWII nor played any public role in electoral and party politics.

He became President de Gaulle’s second prime minister (1962 – 1968) and ultimately his successor as president (1969 – 1974).

As prime minister, he played a key role in managing the Gaullist party but his moderate and pragmatic conservativism brought a rift with de Gaulle in May and June of 1968 when he negotiated the Grenelle Agreement with employers and unions to end the strike movement.

Their political divergences were confirmed when, during his own presidency, he authorised a devaluation of the franc (which de Gaulle had vetoed in 1968), agreed to British entry into the European Community (which de Gaulle had twice vetoed in the 1960s), and approved initial steps towards a European Monetary System.

Pompidou died in office in 1974 before completing his full seven-year presidential term.