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Jean-Pierre Raffarin (born 3 August 1948 in Poitiersmarker, Viennemarker) is a Frenchmarker conservative politician and senatormarker for Viennemarker.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin served as the Prime Minister of France from 6 May 2002 to 31 May 2005, resigning after France's rejection of the referendum on the European Union draft constitution. However, after Raffarin resigned, he said that his decision was not based on the outcome of the vote. Opinion polls following his resignation suggested that Raffarin was one of France's least popular prime ministers since the Fifth Republic was established in 1958. However, according to the book "France: 1815 - 2003", written by Martin Evans and Emmanuel Godwin, Raffarin was "a remarkably popular prime minister" despite his ability "to state the obvious and to make empty statements".

Raffarin is married to Anne-Marie Perrier (b. 1952 in Chamalières) and has a daughter, Fleur.

Early life

He was born in Poitiersmarker, Poitou-Charentesmarker. Son of Jean Raffarin, vice-minister of Agriculture in 1954-1955, he studied law at the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assasmarker and later graduated from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Parismarker business school. He started his professional career in marketing.

In the 1970s, his first political commitment was in the association of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's young supporters. Defining himself as a "giscardien", he joined the staff of Lionel Stoléru, Secretary of state for Manual Workers and Immigration, and the Republican Party, the liberal-conservative component of the center-right confederation the Union for French Democracy (UDF).

Political career

In the 1980s, he started a career in local politics in Poitou-Charentesmarker region. With the support of René Monory, the local political leader, he took the chair of the regional council in 1988.Seven years later, he was elected senator of Viennemarker département.

Governmental functions

Prime Minister : 2002-2005

Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce and Craft : 1995-1997

Electoral mandates

Municipal councillor of Poitiersmarker : 1977-1995

Regional councillor of Poitou-Charentesmarker : 1986-1988

President of the Regional Council of Poitou-Charentesmarker : 1988-2002 (Resignation)

Vice-President of the Regional Council of Poitou-Charentesmarker : 2002-2004

Deputy-mayor of Chasseneuil-du-Poitoumarker : 1995-2001

Senator of Viennemarker : Elected in 1995, but stay minister, 1997-2002 (Became Prime minister in 2002) / Since 2005

Member of European Parliamentmarker : 1989-1995 (Became minister in 1995)

Political functions

Vice-President of the Union for a Popular Movement : 2007-

In government

During the 1995 presidential campaign, while most UDF politicians supported Édouard Balladur, he chose the winning candidacy of Jacques Chirac. In return, he was nominated Minister of Small and Medium-sized Companies, Commerce and Craft Industry in Alain Juppé's cabinet (1995-1997).

At the same time, the pro-Chirac UDF members founded the Popular Party for French Democracy. Then, he returned in the Republican Party, became Liberal Democracy (DL) in 1997. He was vice-president of DL until 2002.

Prime Minister

During the 2002 presidential campaign, he advocated the union of the right behind the incumbent President Chirac. After his re-election, Chirac wished to give a sign of political renewal. Furthemore, elected in a special second round by a majority of left-wing voters, he searched for a moderate to lead the cabinet and the June 2002 legislative campaign. Raffarin participated in the formation of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

His political policies combined authority and moderate economical liberalism — that is, the support of laissez-faire economic policies. In 2003 he launched reforms of the public retirement scheme and of decentralisation, which led to many strike. During the summer of 2003 the country experienced an unusual heat wave which caused the death of nearly 15,000 people. The perceived late reaction of the government was blamed on his administration. In 2004 he began a reform of the French state-run health-care system.

Raffarin's governments were known for their internal quarrels with various ministers taking opposite positions in public. The alleged lack of authority of the Prime Minister was mocked by the media.

On 28 March 2004 the ruling UMP party suffered an important defeat during the regional elections, with all but one région out of 22 of mainland France going to the opposition (PSmarker, PCF, Les Verts). This was generally interpreted, including by Raffarin himself in his post-election speech, as "a sign of distrust against the government from the electorate". On 30 March 2004 Jean-Pierre Raffarin tendered the resignation of his government to president Jacques Chirac, who immediately re-appointed him prime minister, with the delegation to form a new government. This major cabinet reshuffle removed some of its most controversial ministers like Luc Ferry (education) or Jean-François Mattei (health).


Raffarin's resignation was accepted by President Chirac on 30 May 2005, after the "no" victory at the European Constitution referendum, and he was replaced as Prime Minister by Dominique de Villepin.

On 18 September 2005, he was elected Senator in the Vienne département. Speculation were that he could eventually try to become President of the Senate or President of the Union for a Popular Movement if Nicolas Sarkozy won the 2007 presidential election. He became one of the Vice Presidents of the UMP in 2007. In September 2008, he sekked the Senate UMP fraction’s investiture to become President of the Senate, but was defeated by Gérard Larcher.

Raffarin is Chevalier de la LĂ©gion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) and Grand-Croix de l'ordre national du MĂ©rite (National Order of Merit).

International policies

In September 2004 the USmarker conservative blogosphere erupted with criticism of Francemarker when a New York Post opinion piece claimed that Le Figaro reported that Raffarin said "the Iraqi insurgents are our best allies". There is no trace of this quote in Le Figaro, and the opinion piece is no longer available from the NYP website.During a state visit to China on 21 April 2005 he avoided opposing the new "anti-secession" law on Taiwan, stating that "The anti-secession law is completely compatible with the position of France" and "The position of France has always been to 'one China' and we will remain attached to this position". On the embargo on weapons, he stated that "France continues to ask for a lifting of the embargo, and does not see what could lead the European Council to change position on that question". [24982] [24983]By convention, foreign affairs are one of the President's—and not the Prime Minister's—sole responsibilities.


First ministry (7 May 2002 - 17 June 2002

Second ministry (17 June 2002 - 31 March 2004)

Third ministry (31 March 2004 - 29 November 2004)

Minor changes

29 November 2004 - following a Nicolas Sarkozy's resignation to become president of the UMPscandal forcing Hervé Gaymard resignation.

25 February 2005 - following a scandal forcing Hervé Gaymard's resignation


Jean-Pierre Raffarin was often teased for his optimistic aphorisms, known colloquially and ironically as raffarinades, the best known being La route est droite, mais la pente est forte ("The road is straight, but the slope is steep"). Some consider that the word raffarinade was created in reference to the other French word mazarinade. However, mazarinade refers to the songs that the frondeurs (French revolutionaries during the RĂ©gence of Queen Anne - Archduchess of Austria - and chief minister Cardinal de Mazarin, before king Louis XIV's personal reign) sang to mock the unpopular chief minister.

Raffarin also tried his English prior to the referendum on the European draft Constitution but this turned out to be an ill-advised idea, as shown in this famous excerpt [24984] from his speech: "Win the yes need the no to win against the no." The referendum itself was enventually nicknamed le Raffarindum by its opponents while Whit Monday is sometimes referred to as la Saint-Raffarin by discontented workers (following a decision by Raffarin, French workers are supposed to work on Whit Monday for free).


See also

External links


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