Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing has died at the age of 94 after contracting the coronavirus.
Giscard was admitted to hospital in September with respiratory problems before being hospitalized again in November. He died at his home after suffering complications linked to the virus, according to Reuters.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Giscard saying he, “worked his whole life to reinforce relations between European nations.”
Giscard lead France from 1974 to 1981 and was credited with modernising the country by allowing divorce by mutual consent and legalizing abortion, Reuters reported. He was the first president to be elected after Charles de Gaulle’s extended time in power.
During his presidency, Giscard sought to liberalize France’s social attitudes and economy, Reuters notes. He was responsible for major projects such as France’s high-speed TGV train network.
His time in office ended in the 1970’s when he lost his re-election bid to Francois Mitterrand in the midst of an economic downturn.
Reuters reported that he had a key role in creating the euro single currency, helping to establish the European Monetary System with then-West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
“Extraordinary political life. Loved talking to him. Complete love-hate relationship with our country. Macron in so many way his successor. Big politician who changed Europe but could not change France” wrote Denis MacShane, a former member of British Parliament.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing dies at 94. Extraordinary political life. Loved talking to him. Complete love-hate relationship with our country. Macron in so many way his successor. Big politician who changed Europe but could not change France @ChassNews @StigAbell @NickFerrariLBC
— Denis MacShane (@DenisMacShane) December 2, 2020