Giscard, the “right-wing president” who approved abortion and divorce in France


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Valéry Giscard d’Estaing introduced changes in France that profoundly modified the political and social landscape, but contributed to its political loss and its fundamental break with traditional rights.

Jacques Séguéla, the advertiser who launched François Mitterrand’s victorious campaign in 1981, the same one who introduced Carla Bruni to Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, sums up the former president’s place in the history of audiovisual communication in this way: «Giscard was the great modernizer of political communication in France.

Modernization partially inspired by North American models, in the great wake of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Giscard was the first to introduce his wife and children into public life, associating them with his victorious 1974 campaign. Giscard was the first to conceive his radio and TV interventions from a popular and cinematographic perspective. Until the end, Giscard was an actor (man of action) and an actor (of audiovisual theater) exceptional on the public scene. Alone Emmanuel Macron it can rival him in that field of political action.

Within two months of being elected president, on May 27, 1974, Giscard had a law passed that contributed to his political downfall without tomorrow. On July 5 of that year, the Giscardian parliamentary majority approved the vote at 18. Until then, the civil and electoral majority was set at 21 years. Still recent in the fire of May 1968, giving the vote to 18-year-olds was taking an obvious electoral risk for a center-right president. The new, younger sociological majority voted against Giscard seven years later.

Months later, on January 17, 1975, Simone Veil, great lady of French liberalism, Minister of Health, proposed to decriminalize abortion in the National Assembly. That law, finally passed, marked a brutal break for the Giscard-Veil couple with traditional rights. The decriminalization of abortion had accompanying measures that facilitated the integration of women in economic and social life. The rights and traditional families never forgave him. The women who welcomed those reforms almost never voted overwhelmingly for Giscard, either.

Until 1975, divorce could only be consummated, legally, in France, if one of the parties could prove the faults of the partner … That legislation penalized women, with fewer economic resources, to prove the infidelities or faults of the spouses. . The law of July 11, 1975 established divorce “by mutual consent” or by “breakdown of life together.” The female clientele received with joy a legislation that helped to “free” them from the yoke of husbands little given to conciliation or amicable rupture.

The June 1975 law introduced another major sociological change: favoring the social integration of the disabled, recognizing their fundamental rights, to work, to the minimum guarantee of resources, to integration in public life. Overnight, millions of men and women benefited from a new position in the civic life of the Nation.

The modernization of the economic, industrial and commercial fabric of France, the modernization and major European institutional reforms, are well-known and recognized major chapters, left and right.

The modernization of political communication, the decriminalization of abortion, voting at 18 years of age, divorce by mutual consent, the social integration of the disabled, are part of the great Giscardian reforms, with a tragic dimension: they contributed to its break with traditional rights and favored the triumph of their left opponents (François Mitterrand) and right (Jacques Chirac).

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