Jacques Delmas, as he was originally known, was not only a tennis player, but also a gifted rugby player whose nascent sporting career was interrupted by the Second World War. He worked as a financial journalist from 1933-38 while a student of law and political science in Paris. During World War Two, he distinguished himself as a part of the French Resistance and was appointed Brigadier General in 1944 at the age of just 29. He was given the pseudonym “Chaban” during the war and subsequently added it to his family name of Delmas. After the war he devoted himself increasingly to Gaullist politics, becoming Mayor of Bordeaux, his future fiefdom, in 1947 and remaining so until 1995. He was a government minister several times during the Fourth Republic (1946-58). In December 1958, he was elected President of the National Assembly in the newly-created Fifth Republic and held this position until 1968. On 20 June 1969, he was appointed Prime Minister by President Georges Pompidou, but resigned in July 1972 due to differences with Pompidou and others, who considered him too progressive and not right-wing enough. Chaban-Delmas ran unsuccessfully for the French presidency after Pompidou’s death in 1974, but was re-elected President of the National Assembly in April 1978, a position he held until 1981, and again from 1986 to 1988. He retired from politics in 1995 at the age of 80. In 1996, he was made President of Honour of the National Assembly as a reward for his fifty years as a parliamentarian. The awarding of this distinction was warmly welcomed by all parties in the National Assembly.
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