French Conservative politician, prime minister 1993–95. During his first year of ‘co-habitation’ with socialist president François Mitterrand he demonstrated the sureness of his political touch, retaining popular support despite active opposition to some of his more right-wing policies. He unsuccessfully contested the presidency in 1995. He is a supporter of the European Union and of the maintainance of close relations between France and Germany.
Balladur was the protégé of the former president Georges Pompidou during the 1960s and 1970s, and economy and finance minister under Jacques Chirac's prime ministership 1986–88. In 1993, he was President Mitterrand's second choice as prime minister, Chirac having declined the post. Balladur promised to create a successful economy and reduce the budget deficit, but faced strong opposition to his immigration and privatization policies, his proposals for government funding of private schools, and his employment legislation, reducing the minimum wage paid to young workers. A no-confidence motion in the National Assembly 1994 failed to unseat him and, with the economy improving, he appeared strongly placed for an eventual challenge for the presidency. However, allegations of corruption and illegal phone-tapping led to a dramatic fall in his popularity, and he was eliminated in the first round of the 1995 presidential elections. He later failed in his bid to become mayor of Paris in 2001 and president of the National Assembly in 2002.
Born in Izmir, Turkey, Balladur's parents emigrated to Marseilles, France, in 1935. He was president of the French company of the Mont Blanc Tunnel 1968–80.