Raymond Poincaré


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(b. 20 Aug. 1860, d. 15 Oct. 1934).

President of France 1913–20; Prime Minister 1912–13, 1922–4, 1926–9 A member of the Chamber of Deputies 1887–1903, he was a Senator 1903–13, and 1920–9. Though not wanting war in order to regain the Alsace and his native Lorraine from Germany, as Prime Minister and then as President he strove to improve France's military and international position in case war did break out. To some extent, he succeeded in carving out a more political role for the president whose constitutional role was that of a mere figurehead, thanks to the turbulence of World War I and his skill at political manoeuvre. Nevertheless, he failed to make any significant impact on the actual running of the war, and had little influence on the policies of Clemenceau during or after the war. Back in the Senate, Poincaré provoked Briand's resignation and succeeded him as Prime Minister. He maintained and even accelerated his country's hardline stance towards Germany, and in early 1923 ordered the French occupation of the Ruhr. However, this policy backfired, since the crisis cost the already debt‐stricken French state dearly, while it brought financial ruin to Germany. As a result, he was forced to settle for a less stringent policy on German reparation payments after all. Following a severe economic crisis, Poincaré once again became Prime Minister in 1926. Through the introduction of some austerity measures he managed to stabilize the franc and balance the budget. This time, he cooperated with Briand, allowing him to continue in his more accommodating policy towards Germany. His government enjoyed relative stability, but he had to resign in 1929 owing to ill health.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Politics.

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