Jacques Chirac, the son of a banker, was born in France 1932. After leaving university he worked in the office of President Georges Pompidou.
In 1967 Chirac was elected to the National Assembly and was appointed as junior secretary in the finance ministry. Later he served as Minister for Agriculture and Minister of Industry.
Chirac became prime minister in 1974 but he had a poor relationship with President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and resigned in August 1976. After leaving office Chirac established the pro-Gaullist Rassemblement pour la République (RPR).
In 1977 Chirac became Mayor of Paris, a post he was to hold for 18 years. Chirac was defeated by Francois Mitterrand in the 1981 presidential election. Afterwards he emerged in the National Assembly as leader of the right-wing opposition during the Socialist administration (1981-86).
Following the 1986 National Assembly elections Mitterrand appointed Chirac as prime minister. In 1988 Chirac challenged Mitterrand for the presidency but was defeated. His third attempt to win the presidency succeeded in May 1995.
Within six weeks of his victory, Chirac announced the resumption of French nuclear tests in the South Pacific. This caused violent demonstrations in Tahiti and Chirac was forced to send in the Foreign Legion.