Lionel Jospin

From Academic Kids

Lionel Jospin has white, curly hair and wears glasses. He's generally seen with a suit and a tie.

Lionel Jospin (born 12 July 1937) is a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France from 1997-2002.

Jospin was the French Socialist Party candidate for President of France in the elections of 1995 and 2002. He was narrowly defeated in the final runoff election by Jacques Chirac in 1995. In 2002 he was stunningly eliminated in the first round after finishing behind both Chirac and the far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, and immediately announced his retirement from politics.


Early political career

Lionel Jospin was educated at Sciences Po and the École nationale d'administration.

He joined the French Socialist Party in 1971, and became the leader of the party when François Mitterrand was elected President of France in 1981. He served as Minister of Education between 1988 and 1992.

As a member of the National Assembly, Jospin served first as a representative of Paris (1978-86), and then of Haute-Garonne (1986-88). Jospin lost his seat in the National Assembly in the Socialists' landslide defeat in the legislative elections of 1993.

In 1995, Jospin was selected to be the Socialist candidate for President. Following the Socialists' landslide defeat in the parliamentary elections two years earlier, Jospin was considered to have little chance of victory. But he did surprisingly well, losing only very narrowly to Jacques Chirac in the final runnoff election. Despite defeat, his performance was seen to mark a revival of the Socialists as a strong force in French politics.

Two years later, Chirac decided to call an early election for the National Assembly, hoping for a personal endorsement. But the move backfired as the Socialists regained a parliamentary majority and Jospin became Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

Despite his previous image as a rigid socialist, Jospin went on selling state participations, lowered the VAT rate, income tax and company tax.

His government also introduced the 35-hour week, provided additional health insurance for the poorest, promoted the representation of women in politics, and created the PACS (a civil partnership or union between two people, whether of opposite genders or not). During his term, with the help of a favorable economic situation, unemployment fell by 900,000.

Jospin was a candidate in the presidential campaign of 2002. While he appeared to have momentum in the early stages, the campaign came to be focused mainly on law-and-order issues, in which, it was argued, the government had not achieved convincing results; this coincided with a strong focus of the media on a number of egregious crime cases. The Prime Minister was also strongly criticized by the far left for his moderate economic policies, which, they contended, were not markedly different from that of a right-wing government favoring business people and free markets. Many left-wing candidates contested the election, gaining small percentages of the vote in the first ballot, chipping away at Jospin's support. As a result, Jospin narrowly polled in third place, behind Chirac and the Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, and thus did not go through to the runoff second round of voting. (The story of the campaign is told in the documentary Comme un coup de tonnerre.)

Following his defeat in April 2002, Jospin immediately declared his decision to leave politics and stepped down as Prime Minister. He has since made episodic comments on current political affairs; for instance, he declared his opposition to same-sex marriage. In 2005, he returned to the national political scene by campaigning forcefully in favor of the proposed European Constitution.

Trotskyist past

During his school years in the 1960s, Jospin joined the Internationalist Communist Organization, a secretive group dedicated to an unreconstructed Trotskyist program of overthrowing France's parliamentary democracy for the "dictatorship of the proletariat". He remained active in it during the 1970s while also serving as a trusted member of the Socialist Party.

Jospin concealed this relationship, and specifically denied it when asked about it later. In 2001, investigative journalists and successive revelations by former Communist associates showed him to have been lying, and he confessed the truth. Having lied hurt him politically more than having been in a cell of the revolutionary left, but the political damage was not severe or long-lasting in France — various other left-wing or right-wing politicians having had stints with radical groups in their youth, then later denying them or blaming them on youthful indiscretion (see Occident, Alain Madelin for instance).

See also:

Jospin's Ministry, 4 June 1997 - 7 May 2002


Preceded by:
François Mitterrand
First Secretary of the Socialist Party
Succeeded by:
Pierre Mauroy
Preceded by:
Minister of Research and Technology
Succeeded by:
Hubert Curien
Preceded by:
René Monory
Minister of National Education
Succeeded by:
Jack Lang
Preceded by:
Minister of Sport
Succeeded by:
Frédérique Bredin
Preceded by:
Henri Emmanuelli
First Secretary of the Socialist Party
Succeeded by:
François Hollande
Preceded by:
Alain Juppé
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by:
Jean-Pierre Raffarin

Template:End box

External links

  • Archives of the official web sites of Prime Minister Jospin: 1997-1998 (, 1998-2000 (, 2000-2002 ( Jospin

fr:Lionel Jospin pl:Lionel Jospin zh:若斯潘


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