Charles de Gaulle was a French statesman and army officer. Charles de Gaulle fought against Nazi Germany in the Second World War by leading the Free French Forces. He also worked towards re-establishing democracy in France. He founded the Fifth Republic, France's current republican system, and rewrote the Constitution of France. He then served as the president of France.
Jacques Chirac was a French politician who served as France's prime minister on two occasions, first from 1974 to 1976 and then from 1986 to 1988. He also served as France's president from 1995 to 2007. Because of his long career in prominent government positions, Chirac was often caricatured or parodied. He was also depicted in films, such as W.
Georges Clémenceau, or The Tiger, who had served as the French prime minister, is remembered as a key figure of the French Third Republic. He not only played a major role in the Allied victory in World War I, but was also a key framer of the Treaty of Versailles.
Georges Pompidou was a French politician whose tenure as prime minister of France between 1962 and 1968 was the longest in the history of France. From 1969 to 1974, Pompidou served as president of France. He is credited with mending France's relationship with the US and maintaining positive relations with many other countries.
French diplomat and bishop Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord is counted among the most pragmatic and prominent diplomats in European history. He served King Louis XVI and thereafter changed sides several times, serving at highest levels of successive French governments of Napoleon I, Louis XVIII and Louis Philippe I. He served as the first Prime Minister of France under Louis XVIII.
While his clubfoot prevented him from joining the army and also earned him the nickname The Lame Devil, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord later became the bishop of Autun. Known for his womanizing ways, he also went down in history as an opportunist who changed sides.
Son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic al-Hariri, Saad Hariri joined politics after his father was assassinated. After being educated in France and Saudi Arabia, Saad took over his father’s construction business and expanded into the telecom sector. The Future Movement member has also been Lebanon’s prime minister twice.
Born into a Jewish family in Paris, three-time French prime minister Léon Blum had initially studied law. He joined politics inspired by the Dreyfus affair. The first socialist and the first Jew to head France, he introduced reforms such as the 40-hour work week and paid vacations.
11 Alain Juppé
Son of a Gaullist resistance fighter, Alain Juppé studied classical literature before joining politics. He served as the mayor of Bordeaux and handled the ministries of defense and foreign affairs before becoming the prime minister of France. He is now part of the French Constitutional Council.
Dominique de Villepin is a French politician. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the prime minister of France. Prior to his prime ministership, Villepin served as the minister of the Interior from 2004 to 2005. Also a prolific writer, Villepin has written several political and historical essays, poetry, and a book about poetry.
Nobel Peace Prize-winning French stateman Aristide Briand had been the prime minister of his country for 11 terms, apart from holding 26 ministerial posts throughout his career. He played major roles in the drafting of the Pact of Locarno and Kellogg-Briand Pact, and had founded journals such as l’Humanité.
Édith Cresson is a French politician who served as the prime minister of France from 1991 to 1992. She is the first, and so far the only woman to have held this office. Her term was uneventful and her political career ended in scandal. She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders as well.
Pierre Mendès France, who served as the president of France, is best remembered for his efforts in ending France’s involvement in the Indochina War. He was a qualified lawyer and had also participated in World War II. He also signed a deal that made France pull out its forces from Vietnam.
17 Guy Mollet
Guy Mollet, son of a textile worker, started his career as an English teacher and went on to etch his name in politics as leader of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and Prime Minister of France. He however garnered criticism as Prime Minister for his international policy, particularly during the Suez Crisis and the Algerian War.
Pierre Bérégovoy had started his career as a metal worker and a machinist at age 16. He formally entered politics with trade unions and joined the Socialist Party, gradually rising up the ranks to become the prime minister of France. He shot himself to death after resigning amid corruption allegations.
Born to nuclear physicist Yves Rocard, Michel Rocard graduated from the National School of Administration and initially joined student politics. The Socialist Party member later held significant portfolios such as the ministry of agriculture and later became the prime minister of France. He was also part of the European Parliament.
French politician Georges Bidault had not only led the French Resistance during World War II but had also been a three-time foreign minister and a two-time prime minister. Initially a history teacher, he later started the Mouvement Républicain Populaire. He was eventually charged with conspiracy for being associated with the OAS.
After studying political science and law, Jacques Chaban-Delmas worked as a journalist. A prominent part of the Résistance movement, he officially began his political career as the mayor of Bordeaux, and later became the prime minister of France. He was also a skilled tennis and rugby player.
22 Michel Debré
Michel Debré was a French politician who served as the prime minister of France from 1959 to 1962. An infuential and important politician, Debré also served as the minister of defence, minister of foreign affairs, and minister of the economy and finance in different time periods. Michel Debré is regarded as the father of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic.
Paul Painlevé was a French mathematician and statesman who served as the prime minister of the Third Republic twice. Even though his first tenure as the prime minister lasted only a few weeks, he had to deal with serious issues within this short time. He also represented France in the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations.
Raymond Barre was a French politician and economist who was the prime minister of France from 1976 to 1981. Prior to this, he served as the vice president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs from 1967 to 1973. He was accused of being antisemitic or at least supportive of antisemitism on several occasions.
Léon Bourgeois was a French statesman known for his progressive political ideals. He studied law as a young man and soon entered politics. With time, he steadily rose through the political ranks and became the prime minister of France in 1895. He promoted social insurance schemes, economic equality, controlled disarmament, economic sanctions, and expanded educational opportunities.
Son of an army officer, Édouard Herriot grew up to become a talented teacher, scholar, and literary critic. He began his political career as the municipal councillor of Lyon and won hearts with his urban development plans. He gradually rose through the ranks to become the prime minister of France.
French Radical politician Camille Chautemps commenced his political career with local politics and went on to serve as Prime Minister of France, twice under President Albert Lebrun and once under President Gaston Doumergue. Following the Second World War, Chautemps was convicted in absentia by a French court for collaborating with the enemy and was eventually amnestied.
Pierre Messmer was a French Gaullist politician who served as minister of armies under President Charles de Gaulle from 1960 to 1969. He later became the prime minister in 1972. He was considered one of the “historical Gaullists.” He was named Chancellier de l'Ordre de la Libération in 2006. He was also elected to the Académie française.
Antoine Pinay was a French conservative politician who served as the prime minister of France from 1952 to 1953. He fought in World War I as a young man and later joined politics. He had a successful political career and held several high-profile positions before becoming the prime minister. He was made "Médiateur de la République" by President Georges Pompidou.
Pierre Mauroy was a French Socialist politician. He served as the prime minister of France from 1981 to 1984. He was also the mayor of Lille for several years, from 1973 to 2001. His government was a radical one, and he implemented numerous social reforms during his tenure. He served as the president of the Socialist International as well.
Albert Sarraut was a French Radical politician who served as the prime minister twice during the Third Republic. Prior to becoming the prime minister, he held various positions in French politics and was the governor-general of French Indochina for two terms. He retired from politics in the 1940s and took control of the newspaper La Dépêche de Toulouse.
Joseph Caillaux was a French politician of the Third Republic. A leader of the French Radical Party, he held progressive views, due to which he faced opposition from his conservative contemporaries. He was brilliant as a financier and held great power in French politics. During World War I, he became the leader of a peace party in the assembly.
Armand-Emmanuel de Vignerot du Plessis, duc de Richelieu was a French statesman. He served as an officer in the Russian Imperial Army during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. He was a royalist and actively supported monarchy during the Bourbon Restoration, following which he became the prime minister of France. He was married to Alexandrine Rosalie Sabine de Rochechouart-Faudoas.
Maurice Couve de Murville was a French diplomat and politician who served as the prime minister of France from 1968 to 1969. Prior to this, he was the minister of foreign affairs from 1958 to 1968. He played a key role in the critical Franco-German treaty of cooperation and laid the foundation for the Paris-Bonn axis as the foreign minister.
35 René Viviani
French politician of the Third Republic, René Viviani who was known for his efforts to protect the rights of trade union workers and socialists, served as Prime Minister of France during first year of First World War. He was the last General Secretary of Republican-Socialist Party (PRS). He also held other political offices including Labour and Social Security.
Albert, 4th duc de Broglie was a 19th-century French monarchist politician, diplomat, and writer. He served as the prime minister of France for two non-consecutive terms. The eldest son of Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie, he succeeded his father as the 4th duc de Broglie in 1870. He was appointed the prime minister for the first time in May 1873.
Émile Ollivier was a French statesman who became the prime minister of France in 1869. He started out as an avid republican and opposed Emperor Napoleon III. Once the emperor fell, Ollivier entered the cabinet and took over as the prime minister. He fell out of favor after the French Army performed badly in the Franco-Prussian War.
René Waldeck-Rousseau was a French Republican politician who served as the prime minister of France from 1899 to 1902. A qualified lawyer, he moved to the bar of Rennes during the Third Republic. He soon entered politics and had a successful career in this field as well. He was known to be a cold, head-strong, and intellectual person.
Alexandre Ribot was a French politician who served as the prime minister of France four times. A lawyer by profession, he had a brilliant academic career at the University of Paris before he ventured into politics. His political career turned out to be as successful as his legal one, and he soon established himself as a prominent republican.
40 René Pleven
René Pleven was a French politician during the Fourth Republic. He was a member of the Free French and helped found the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance (UDSR). In the 1950s, he served as the prime minister for two terms. He gained much prominence for the introduction of the Pleven Plan.
Pierre Werner was a Luxembourgian politician who served as the prime minister on two non-consecutive terms. He was a member of the Christian Social People's Party (CSV). He was a practicing lawyer before he became a politician. As prime minister, he undertook reforms to diversify the national economy. He also actively promoted the restoration of Luxembourg's heritage.
Paul Ramadier was a French politician and statesman. He studied law at the University of Toulouse and started his career as a lawyer in Paris. Following a successful law career, he joined politics. He took an active part in the French Resistance. As a politician, he was known to be hardworking, pragmatic, and conciliatory.
André Tardieu was a French politician who served as the prime minister of France thrice. A moderate conservative, he had a strong reputation and was a dominant figure in French politics. However, he lost favor during the worldwide Great Depression even though he took many steps to evade the depression in France. He also authored several books on French politics.
44 Émile Combes
French statesman and freemason Émile Combes led the Bloc des gauches government as Prime Minister of France from June 1902 to January 1905. His strong stance and steps taken towards the separation of church and state led to the eventual passage of the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State which established state secularism in France.
Casimir Pierre Périer was a prominent French banker, mine owner, and politician. As a highly successful businessman, he made major contributions to the economic development of France in the initial phases of industrialization. In politics, he led the liberal-conservative Resistance Party in support of the monarchy. He became the minister of interior in 1831. Sadly, he died the following year.
Charles de Freycinet was a French statesman who served as the prime minister four times during the Third Republic. A member of the Opportunist Republicans faction, he also spent a term as the minister of war. An engineer by profession, he was an elected member of the Academy of Sciences. He also occupied a seat in the Académie française.
Initially a philosophy professor and then a school inspector, Charles Dupuy later became the prime minister of France. The infamous Dreyfus Affair took place during his tenure. When a bomb was hurled at him during his time as the Chamber president, he had calmly said “The debate continues, gentlemen.”
Maurice Rouvier was a French statesman of the Opportunist Republicans faction. Beginning his career as a businessman, he eventually entered politics, where he found much success. He rose through the ranks in French politics to become the prime minister of France. In this position, he implemented several popular financial policies. He became a successful banker later in life.
Élie, duc Decazes was a French statesman who led the liberal Doctrinaires party during the Bourbon Restoration. A lawyer by profession, he served as a judge of the Seine Tribunal before entering politics. He was a self-proclaimed royalist and remained faithful to the Bourbons throughout the Hundred Days. He became the prime minister of France in 1819.
50 Jules Méline
A lawyer by profession, Félix-Jules Méline served as the Minister of Agriculture and president of the Chamber of Deputies before he became the 65th Prime Minister of France. Today, he is best remembered for his role in drafting a protectionist legislation called the Méline tariffs, which sought to provide protection to the French industries from perceived external economic threat.