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Yearbook 1996

France. In January, an era in French history ended. According to, François Mitterrand, longtime socialist leader and president between 1981 and 1995, died after many years of cancer. However, his situation was kept secret only a few years ago. In retrospect, both his political advisers and his doctors have been criticized for this, as it is considered that they thereby endangered the country. At the beginning of the year, Mitterrand's successor to the presidential post, Jacques Chirac, faced intense domestic and international criticism for the continuing nuclear weapons tests at the Mururoatollen in the Pacific. Before the first French head of state visit to the US in 12 years, the trial series was stopped prematurely. Future tests will be carried out in special laboratories in France. The French government also announced that the nuclear missiles based in southeastern France should be scrapped. The defense must be reorganized. Many bases both in France and abroad must be closed down. Cooperation with NATO is to be developed, but a re-entry as a member requires that NATO be restructured and European members given greater influence. The defense industry will lose weight and the military service system will be abolished until 2001.

1996 France

1996 FranceThe measures in the defense field will further deteriorate the state of the labor market. Unemployment was around 12% throughout the year, and no improvement could be seen. The government's severe budget cuts led to fewer jobs in the public sector, which in turn led to extensive strikes. The message that it was intended to freeze the salaries of the government employees was met by the unions in October with a major strike that almost paralyzed large parts of the country. In recent years, the cost of welfare policy has gone astray, and in 1996 the government was forced to take drastic measures as economic growth was lower than expected. In order to get the economy organized, the state-owned companies (eg France Télécom, Renault and the insurance company Assurances Générales de France) continue to privatize.

However, the growing social unrest has other causes as well. Bomb attacks and other acts of terrorism have killed dozens of people. Corsica has been at the center of political violence since the local independence movement has stepped up its fight against the French authorities. Basques and militant Islamic groups have also contributed to the tense situation of police and military patrolling in subways and railway stations. The attacks have also given new impetus to anti-immigrant organizations, for example. National front under the leadership of the disputed politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, and forced the government to tighten immigration policy.

In foreign policy, the consolidation of relations between France and Germany and the marking of these states' leading role in the EU have been at the center. President Chirac also sought to strengthen France's international standing through political outreach directed to the Arab world as well as to other states in Africa and Asia. During his visit to the Middle East, the president caused a stir by refusing to speak in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, but shortly thereafter became the first foreign head of state to speak in the Palestinian parliament.

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