Édouard Balladur

Édouard Balladur
Prime Minister of France
In office
29 March 1993  10 May 1995
President François Mitterrand
Preceded by Pierre Bérégovoy
Succeeded by Alain Juppé
Minister of Finance
In office
20 March 1986  12 May 1988
President François Mitterrand
Prime Minister Jacques Chirac
Preceded by Pierre Bérégovoy
Succeeded by Pierre Bérégovoy
Secretary General of the Presidency
In office
5 April 1973  2 April 1974
President Georges Pompidou
Preceded by Michel Jobert
Succeeded by Bernard Beck
Personal details
Born (1929-05-02) 2 May 1929
Izmir, Turkey
Political party Union for a Popular Movement
Spouse(s) Marie-Josèphe Delacour
Children 4
Occupation Senior official
Religion Roman Catholic (Armenian Rite)

Édouard Balladur (French: [e.dwaʁ ba.la.dyʁ]; born 2 May 1929) is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France under François Mitterrand from 29 March 1993 to 10 May 1995. He unsuccessfully ran for president in the 1995 French presidential election, coming in third place.


Balladur was born in Izmir, Turkey, to an ethnic Armenian family with five children and longstanding ties to France. His family emigrated to Marseille in the mid to late 1930s.[1]

In 1957, Balladur married Marie-Josèphe Delacour, with whom he had four sons.

Balladur started his political career in 1964 as an advisor to Prime Minister Georges Pompidou. After Pompidou's election as President of France in 1969, Balladur was appointed under-secretary general of the presidency then secretary general from 1973 to Pompidou's death in 1974.

He returned to politics in the 1980s as a supporter of Jacques Chirac. A member of the Neo-Gaullist Rally for the Republic (RPR) party, he was the theoretician behind the "cohabitation government" from 1986 to 1988, explaining that if the right won the legislative election, it could govern with Chirac as prime minister without Socialist Party President François Mitterrand's resignation. As Minister of Economy and Finance, he sold off a large number of public companies and abolished the wealth tax.

He appeared as an unofficial deputy Prime Minister in the cabinet led by Chirac. He took a major part in the adoption of liberal and pro-European policies by Chirac and the RPR. After Chirac's defeat at the 1988 presidential election, part of the RPR held him responsible of the abandonment of Gaullist doctrine, but he kept the confidence of Chirac.

Prime Minister

When the RPR/UDF coalition won the 1993 legislative election, Chirac declined to become Prime Minister again in a second "cohabitation" with President Mitterrand, and Balladur became Prime Minister. He was faced with a difficult economic situation, but he did not want to make the political errors of the previous cohabitation government. If he failed to impose his project of minimum income for youth, he led a moderate liberal policy in economy.[2] Conveying the image of a quiet conservative, he did not question the wealth taxn(reestablished by the Socialists in 1988). Despite corruption affairs affecting some of his ministers, who he forced to resign (thus lending his name to the so-called "Balladur jurisprudence"), he became very popular and had the support of influential media.

1995 presidential election

When he became Prime Minister, Balladur had promised Chirac that he would not enter the 1995 presidential election, and that he would support Chirac's candidacy. However a number of right-wing politicians advised Balladur to run for the presidency in 1995. He went back on his promise to Chirac and entered the campaign. When he announced his candidacy, four months before the election, he was considered the favourite. In the polls, he led Chirac by almost 20 points. However, from the position of an outsider, Chirac criticized Balladur as representing "dominant ideas", and the difference between the two decreased quickly. The revelation of a bugging scandal which implicated Balladur also contributed to a drop in his popularity among voters.

In the first round of the election, Balladur finished in third place with 18.6% of the vote behind the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin and Chirac. He was thus eliminated from the final run-off election between the top two candidates, which Chirac won.

Chirac immediately appointed Alain Juppé to replace Balladur as Prime Minister. Despite Chirac declaring that he and Balladur had been "friends for 30 years", Balladur's decision to stand against him greatly strained their relationship. As a result, the "Balladuriens" who had supported him in the presidential election, such as Nicolas Sarkozy, were ostracized from the new Chirac administration.

Later political career

Balladur failed to win the elections for the presidency of the Île-de-France region in 1998, the RPR nomination for the mayoralty of Paris in 2001, and the Chair of the National Assembly in 2002. He presided over the National Assembly's foreign affairs committee during his last parliamentary term (2002–2007). Since the 1980s, he had advocated the unification of the right-wing groupings into a single large party, but it was Chirac who managed the feat, with the creation of the Union for a Popular Movement in 2002.

In 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president, he nominated Balladur to the head of a committee for institutional reforms. The constitutional revision was approved by the Parliament in July 2008.

From 1968 to 1980, Balladur was president of the French company of the Mont Blanc Tunnel while occupying various other positions in ministerial staff. Following the 1999 deadly accident in the tunnel, he gave evidence to the court judging the case in 2005 about the security measures he had or had not taken. Balladur claimed that he always took security seriously, but that it was difficult to agree on anything with the Italian company operating the Italian part of the tunnel. From 1977 to 1986, he was president of Générale de Service Informatique (later merged into IBM Global Services), making him one of the few French politicians with business experience.

In 2006, he announced that he would not run again for re-election in 2007 as a member of Parliament for the 15th arrondissement of Paris, a conservative stronghold.

In 2008, Balladur visited the United States to speak at an event organized by the Streit Council, a Washington-based think-tank. Balladur presented his latest book, in which he outlined a concept for a "Union of the West."[3]

Balladur is often caricatured as aloof, aristocratic and arrogant in media, such as the Canard Enchaîné weekly or the Les Guignols de l'info TV show.

In 2011, he was hospitalized during two weeks for Neisseria gonorrhoeae arthritis.

Political offices held

Rwanda genocide

On 5 August 2008, the government of Rwanda issued a report, accusing Balladur of involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed 800,000 people. He and other French officials were accused in the report of giving political, military, diplomatic and logistical support during the genocide to Rwanda’s extremist government and the Hutu forces that slaughtered minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.


(29 March 1993 – 10 May 1995)




  1. Marsh, David (2011). The Euro. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 1956. ISBN 978-0-300-17390-1. Chirac's appointee as finance minister - effectively No. 2 to the prime minister - was the prime, precisely-worded Edouard Balladur, born in Turkey of an Armenian family who emigrated to Marseille in the 1930s.
  2. Maclean, Mairi: Privatisation in France 1993–94: new departures, or a case of plus ca change? – In: West European Politics (London), 18 (April 1995) 2, S. 273 290
  3. http://streitcouncil.org/content/activities/events/balladur_08/balladur_bio.htm
Political offices
Preceded by
Pierre Bérégovoy
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Alain Juppé
Preceded by
Pierre Bérégovoy
Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Privatization
Succeeded by
Pierre Bérégovoy
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