Lionel Jospin

(b. 1937)

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(b. 12 July 1937).

Prime Minister of France, 1997–2002 Born in Meudon, he graduated from the elite universities Institut d'Études Politiques and the École Nationale d'Administration (ENA). He joined the Socialist Party in 1971, just after taking up a professorship in economics at Paris University IX. The party's expert on foreign policy, Jospin became party leader in 1981, Mitterrand became President. From 1988 to 1992 Jospin served as Minister of Education, but in 1993 he lost his seat in the National Assembly and returned to university teaching. He returned to lead the Socialist Party in the 2005 presidential elections, when he came a close second to Chirac. Jospin led his party to a triumphant election victory in 1997, and subsequently presided over a period of high economic growth and low inflation. His government also introduced a number of social welfare reforms and relaxed the country's relatively stringent immigration policies. In a sweeping tax reform in 2001, he provided marked relief especially for lower incomes and an overall reduction in the tax burden. From 2000, however, his government's performance was less assured, which manifested itself in a series of ministerial resignations owing to a number of scandals. Ironically, his unassuming nature became an electoral liability against the populist Chirac, who managed to define the election campaign on issues like law and order. Jospin's centrism failed to unite the left behind him, so that in a political earthquake he missed the second round of the presidential elections, coming third behind Chirac and Le Pen.

Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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