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Charles Pasqua

(1927)


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(b. Grasse, 18 Apr. 1927)

French; Interior Minister 1986–8, 1993–5 The son of a policeman, and Corsican by origin, Pasqua fought in the Resistance and for twenty years combined a successful career in the Ricard drinks company with close involvement in the Gaullist organizations of the Fourth and Fifth Republics. He enjoyed the murkier elements of political activity and cultivated a reputation as a plain-speaking right-winger. He took up full-time politics in 1968, when he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the rich Paris suburb of Hauts-de-Seine, where he established a solid political base as Senator (from 1977) and president of the departmental council (1988–2004). A close ally of Chirac, whose 1981 presidential campaign he organized, he was recognized as the strong man of the neo-Gaullist Rassemblement pour la Republique (RPR). His muscular nationalism made him the obvious choice for Interior Minister in Chirac's 1986 government with the task of winning back conservative support from the far right Le Pen by emphasizing the toughness of the government's policy towards immigrants and terrorists. The failure of Chirac's 1988 presidential campaign led Pasqua, for the first time, to strike out on his own as the spokesman for populist Gaullism against the technocratic élite which he claimed had betrayed it. He built up his own power base within the RPR and, together with Seguin, led an effective campaign in 1992 against the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty which Chirac felt bound to support. Back at the Interior Ministry in the 1993 Balladur government, with the same mission he had had in 1986, his plain man's rumbustiousness won him considerable popularity amongst an electorate obsessed with law and order issues. He did not hesitate to intervene in issues beyond his portfolio and was regarded as a Deputy Prime Minister. He made a serious miscalculation, however, in backing Balladur rather than his erstwhile champion Chirac for the 1995 presidential election. The latter's victory ensured his departure from office, though it did not consign him to the wilderness. In 1999 he co-founded the Eurosceptic Rally for France party and was elected to the European parliament (1999–2004). He returned to the Senate in 2004 for Hauts-de-Seine and actively and successfully campaigned against the European Constitution in the 2005 referendum. Allegations of corruption caught up with him in 2005, when the US Senate Committee investigating the Iraq oil-for-food programme accused him and the British politician George Galloway of receiving funds from Saddam Hussein, a charge he strongly rejected. He was one of the defendants in the ‘Angola-gate’ trial, concerning arms trafficking to Angola. that commenced in Paris in October 2008.

Subjects: Politics.


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