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The new French government

by linca Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 04:13:31 AM EST

After the second round of the legislative election (discussed in Laurent's thread), and as announced when the first iteration of Sarkozy's government was made, comes the final form of François Fillon's government.

The composition of this government had to be more overhauled than first thought, because of the defeat of Alain Juppé in Bordeaux. Alain Juppé, former prime minister in '95-'97, condemned in 2004 to be ineligible for one year because of in role in the illegal financing of the RPR (predecessor to the UMP), was thought as the most competent man on the right, heir to Jacques Chirac. His encounter with justice had killed his chance to be the next president, but he still was the most important minister in Fillon's government, in charge of Ecology and Sustainable Development. His losing his parliamentary seat meant he had to quit the government.

So, the new Gouvernement de la République Française :

From the diaries - whataboutbob

- Jean-Louis Borloo : ministre d'Etat, ministre de l'Ecologie, du Développement et de l'Aménagement durables

Jean Louis Borloo (of the Parti des Radicaux Valoisiens) made his name as a lawyer in the '80's. He has a reputation of a center right man with a social heart. His previous position made it seem he could give a social taste to the right wing reforms of the government. Fitting in Juppé's shoes might be hard : in this new minister that was created for Juppé, he will have to rule the strong corporations of the top French administration (the famous Grands Corps), a task more suited with the Enarque Juppé than with the semi outsider Borloo.

Also, there is the question of his ecological credentials : he was a founder of the "green" party Génération Ecologie in 1991, a splinter of the Greens which claimed to be neither right wing nor left wing but which continuously drifted rightwards.

- Michèle Alliot-Marie : ministre de l'Intérieur, de l'Outre-Mer et des Collectivités territoriales

A former Chirac supporter, she was the former president's last hope at countering Sarkozy's bid. This big position being the price of her supporting Sarkozy. (It seems the later one announced one's support for Sarkozy, the better the position gained in this government)

- Bernard Kouchner : ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes

The founder of Médecins Sans Frontière, which went on to found Médecins du Monde when his taste for publicity, and his coïncidental habit of supporting the sides the French government discreetely supported in various Third World wars, no longer fit his former NGO. He also led the international government in Kosovo.

He used to be the most popular French politician, but never could get himself elected ; an outsider to the PS, he feels accepting Sarkozy's proposition is the only way he'll get his dream position.

A champion of the right to intervene militarily in another state's internal affairs in the case of humanitarian risks, he is pushing for international intervention in Darfur. He was also in favor of such an intervention in Iraq, in 2003.

He clearly is the result of Sarkozy's wish to trouble the left with defections : Nicolas also courted Vedrine, Jospin's foreign minister, who didn't get the position because he wanted guarantees of actual independence in his role. Vedrine's realpolitik views on international policies are the exact opposite of Kouchner's.

- Christine Lagarde : ministre de l'Economie, des Finances et de l'Emploi

A former partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie, she replaces Jean Louis Borloo after a short stint in Agriculture. Apparently she wishes to reform French labor law which she says "constitutes a brake on hirings and entrepreneur decisions" according to her French wikipedia page. She is not currently well known to the French public, or by me...

- Brice Hortefeux : ministre de l'Immigration, de l'Intégration, de l'Identité nationale et du Codéveloppement

Hortefeux has been Sarkozy's closest collaborator for a long time, and gets this ministry with a controversial name (announced by Sarkozy during his campain only as ministry of immigration and national identity in a clear bid for the Le Pen vote). His job will be to put dark skinned people in charters back to their birthplaces in order to please the racist right.

- Rachida Dati : garde des Sceaux, ministre de la Justice

Dati is the daughter of immigrants from the Maghreb, and was judge for 3 years as her credentials for this position. She was a speaker for Sarkozy's campaign, and got a position this important as a show of Sarkozy's pledge to integrate French 'minorités visibles'. Which she will do by instaurating minimum penalties for repeat offenders (France's version of three strikes and you're out) and ending special treatment for minors. It might help integrating French minorities into French jails, for sure. (OTOH her job will also be to try and keep Chirac out of jail, and to do so in a discreet way)

- Michel Barnier : ministre de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche

A former member of the European Commission, who was blamed for the French "no" to the constitution. He will have to negotiate - read keep - the PAC in favor of the French agroindustry.

- Xavier Bertrand : ministre du Travail, des Relations sociales et de la Solidarité

He is the man who successfully ended smoking in labor places. He will have to reduce Social Security pensions (especially the Régimes Spéciaux), make unemployement benefits whither faster, possibly diminish health care reimbursments. If he succeeds without having one-million-people-in-the-streets demonstrations, he will have a good future.

- Xavier Darcos : ministre de l'Education nationale

Sarkozy's wish was to undo the 'carte scolaire', so that parent will be able to choose their children's schools. After that, he will try to do nothing and keep the teachers happy - he has already undone some of the more criticized measures of Gilles de Robien, the former minister of Education.

- Valérie Pécresse : ministre de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche

One of Sarkozy's attack dogs, she knows little about universities and research. Sarkozy claims he wants to increase their funding and make them autonomous, but the right wing has consistently diminished this funding, and the "autonomous" is probably a way to privatize higher education and have students pay for it.

- Hervé Morin : ministre de la Défense

After Kouchner, this is another of the 'traitors'. This one used to support Bayrou, but led the movement of UDF deputies to Sarkozy so that they could keep their seats in parliament. He created the "Nouveau Centre" (new center) which essentially consists of 22 deputies, and nothing else. His whole family was candidate all around France in a bid to have enough candidates to be able to claim state funds for political parties.

- Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin : ministre de la Santé, de la Jeunesse et des Sports

Roselyne Bachelot is well known for her gaffes, dressing in colorful dresses, and being the only RPR member defending gays civil unions in 1998. And little else.

- Christine Boutin : ministre du Logement et de la Ville

Boutin gained fame as the most motivated opponent of said gays civil unions, brandishing the bible in the middle of the debate in the Assemblée Nationale. Positioning herself as the leader of the Catholic right, she tried to get herself out of her reactionary image by calling for some form of universal income. She thus gets this position of what is essentially Minister of the Banlieues, that she knows little about. (God forbid the government could try to solve the banlieues problems in any other ways than mass destruction of HLMs, the French subsidised housing for the poors : Sarkozy has decided engagement with their inhabitants, and crime prevention rather than repression, was for sissies)

- Christine Albanel : ministre de la Culture et de la Communication

She used to be Chirac's advisor for culture and education in the Elysée palace. For her good services she got the job of director of the Versailles palace (a job where she was criticized for being in favor of marketing rather than conservation of the palace). She is one of the many Chirac faithful in the government.

- Eric Woerth : ministre du Budget, des Comptes publics et de la Fonction publique

A liberal member of the UMP who raised Sarkozy's anger when he announced that one of Sarkozy's gifts to the (wealthy) electorate, the deduction of mortgage interests from income tax, would only apply if the house was purchased after May 6th - a nice way to lose a few votes in the then upcoming legislative elections.

- Roger Karoutchi : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du Premier ministre, chargé des Relations avec le Parlement

A little known UMP apparachik for a position - relationship between the government and the parliament, i.e. keeping the deputies happy with enough cocktails - that is practically invisible to the general public.

- Jean-Pierre Jouyet : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes, chargé des Affaires européennes

Jouyet is another of the formerly left wing members of this government. A former technocrat, who used to be among Jospin's advisors, this maybe illustrate the French technocratic consensus of Europe -that was soundly rejected in the French referendum on the European constitution. Not that this should have any effect on the actual EU policy of the French government.

- Laurent Wauquiez : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du Premier ministre, Porte-parole du Gouvernement

Young (he's only 32) technocrat (he was the best in his ENA class, he went through the prestigious Ecole Normal Supérieur, like Juppé or Fabius), he is being groomed for the future of the UMP.

- Eric Besson : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du Premier ministre, chargé de la Prospective et de l'Evaluation des politiques publiques

The traitor, who noisily left Royal campaign in December, published a book against her in March, and joined Sarkozy's campaign in the end. This position could mean a real role of oversight of the functioning or the French administration. Or it could be an empty position, a bounty for the Judas of this presidential election, as the fact he won't come to the weekly meeting of the government seems to mean.

- Valérie Létard : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre du Travail, des Relations sociales et de la Solidarité, chargée de la Solidarité

She is both a former advisor of Borloo, staying in the ministry he is leaving, and among the former Bayrou supporters who left the orange party for Sarkozy.

- Dominique Bussereau : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre d'Etat, ministre de l'Ecologie, du Développement et de l'Aménagement durables, chargé des Transports

This is former prime minister Raffarin's man in this government. (The strange thing being that Raffarin apparently still has some influence. I suppose Sarko doesn't want the small noises he could make)

- Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre d'Etat, ministre de l'Ecologie, du Développement et de l'Aménagement durables, chargée de l'Ecologie

She was one of the UMP members and Sarkozy close supporters supposed to have some ecological competences. She is supposed to explain what ecology means to newcomer Borloo, I guess.

- Christian Estrosi : secrétaire d'Etat auprès de la ministre del'Intérieur, de l'Outre-Mer et des Collectivités territoriales, chargé de l'Outre-Mer

Estrosi was one of the Sarkozy faithful. As a representative of the Alpes Maritime (Nice's departement), the former Motocycling champion has always asked for a tougher police, and more restriction on immigration. He was hoping to become leader of the UMP group in the Assemblée Nationale, but he would have lost against Jean François Coppé : so he finally accepted this postition he had initially refused, saying it wouldn't bring him any votes in his home circonscription ( a strange concept of National Interest).

- André Santini : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre du Budget, des Comptes publics et de la Fonction publique, charge de la Fonction publique

A former UDF member and Bayrou supporter ; however he started supporting Sarkozy well before the first round of the presidential election, probably because he is the mayor of Issy les Moulineaux, a Paris suburb in the Sarkozy-led Hauts de Seine ; his life could have become hell if he angered our new president.

- Jean-Marie Bockel : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes, chargé de la Coopération et de la Francophonie

The one new spoil of war of the Fillion 2 government. Bockel is the mayor of Mulhouse in the strongly right wing Alsace region ; he has always led the more right wing side of the Parti Socialiste, and is a self-proclaimed Blairist. Maybe he realised he wasn't much left wing anyway. His defection, along with Kouchner's, shows the right wing of the PS had no qualms going to where power and money are. Should the PS "reform" itself to adopt the program of those people ?

A strange consequence of his nomination is that it seems the Foreign affairs will be led only by former left wing politicians...

- Hervé Novelli : secrétaire d'Etat auprès de la ministre de l'Economie, des Finances et de l'Emploi, chargé des Entreprises et du Commerce extérieur

He is the leader of the liberal tendency in the UMP.

- Fadela Amara : secrétaire d'Etat auprès de la ministre de la Ville et du Logement, chargée de la Politique de la ville

A founding member of the Ni Putes ni Soumises association, promoting to cause of women of foreign origins and of the balieues, trying to get out of their assigned role of being considered whores for refusing to wear the hijab. A former PS municipal council member, she'll try to teach to her head minister, Christine Boutin, what banlieues are. Another representative of the "minorités visibles"

- Alain Marleix : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre de la Défense, chargé des Anciens Combattants

He was in charge of deciding who the UMP would desigante in the legislative elections.

- Rama Yade : secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes, chargée des Affaires étrangères et des Droits de l'homme

Senegalese born member of the UMP, daughter of a Senghor advisor, and a semi technocrat (she is administrator of the Assemblée Nationale, who are recruited with an ENA-level competitive exam). She is criticized as a "token black", which could explain her fast ascension in the UMP.

- Luc Chatel : secrétaire d'Etat auprès de la ministre de l'Economie, des Finances et de l'Emploi, chargé de la Consommation et du Tourisme

Another member of the UMP "liberals". He possibly got his position as a matter of having enough liberals in government.

- Martin Hirsch : haut commissaire aux Solidarités actives contre la pauvreté

Hirsch was the president of the Emmaüs association, which was founded by the Abbé Pierre (who used to be the most popular man in France) to help the homeless. He has a leftwing reputation, has tried to dissociate himself from the other leftwing members of the government (most visibly by staying a few meters away from Besson in the official photograph). He claims he is not really a member of the government, and is only here to set up the RMA (Minimal Activity Income) that is to keep people out of poverty traps where one loses income when getting back to work after being on the dole. How this will not end up in a Hartz-like system forcing the jobless to accept any job remains to be seen.

- Bernard Laporte : secrétaire d'Etat auprès de la ministre de la Santé, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, chargé de la Jeunesse et des Sports (à compter de fin octobre 2007)

The more comical aspect of this government. Laporte is a known Sarkozy supporter ; he also is the coach of the French National Rugby Team, that is competing in the Rugby World Cup in october. That world cup is organised by France, so leaving his team just before the competition would be seen as awful. Thus he gets to become minister, but only 4 months from now. Quite ridiculous.

This is enhanced by the fact he is also a businessman, operating bars, restaurants, casinos, and he already had to go through a perquisition for some shady dealings.


Another thing to note is that for the first time since the Jospin government, members of this government aren't supposed to give up on their local executive positions (as mayors, or heads of intermunicipal, departmental or regional councils). Being a minister is again a part time job.

Excellent Linca, thanks for running this down!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 01:31:23 PM EST
Thanks. I'm afraid I'm starting the habit of Diaries that get this kind of thanks but don't generate much discussion :)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 03:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2 points to add to this excellent run-down.

  1. Its been implied in some reporting, and seems logical, that Sarkozy's aides chose/imposed the top aides on each minister; it would be interesting to track who those folks are. Especially at Justice, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Interior, Environment, and Economy. I think its unlikely Sarkozy would give free reign to someone not close to him, like Morin or MAM, in the ministries that could bring to light Clearstream/EADS, etc.

  2. On the appointment of 3 left deputies to international relations posts, this makes sense since Sarkozy's own positions on the key issues were, at least prior to some mid-campaign repositioning, rather unpopular: pro-Europe, "Atlantic" (ie pro-US), and he didn't have the personal relationships with African and middle eastern leaders that Mitterand and Chirac did. I would expect he'll try to run a lot of the foreign policy out of Elysee, but when there are difficult or unpopular moves to make, thats when Kouchner will be called on to smile like an idiot for the cameras (which he does exceedingly well).
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 02:10:51 PM EST
The lack of actual power for those "left" ministers make their acceptance even more shameful. It makes it clear they care more about position than influencing policy.

The fact that those three have gone to the other side also sheds a new light on their attitude during the campaign : Janneney was one of the Gracques that anonymously called for an alliance with Bayrou in Le Monde ; Bockel liked Sarko's security laws from 2002 to 2006 (ugh) and wanted a movement to a Blairite center ; and Kouchner openly called for discussion with Bayrou a few days before the first round, when it wasn't helpful nor even clear Royal would be getting into the first round. Those three guys clearly wanted to get power more than progressive ideas' success.

The two other "left" ministers, Hirsch and Fadela Amara, are outsiders who may have the excuse of naïvety for getting into government.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 03:43:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bockel is probably a different case - he is mostly consistent with himself, and he has always been a centrist (or rightist) member of the PS, with a strong law and order streak. So he may feel that he will be able to implement his ideas (some of which he has implemented in his city of Mulhouse).

As you say, the others are just shamless turncoats or hopelessly naive. The worst is Kouchner, who is explicitly guarded by Levitte and has been stripped of many of theu sual administrative powers of the minister (for instance, Hortefeux has taken over visas and asilum policies).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:04:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some random additional information:

Borloo's new job is widely seen as a demotion, and punishment for his gaffe on the social VAT last week. I'd bet that his minister is going to be slowly stripped of its functions.

Alliot-Marie is prickly and ambitious; she owes nothing to Sarkozy, she's likely to be one of the most independent-minded ministers;

Kouchner is carefully neutralised by Mr Levitte, who is the new national security advisor to Sarkozy. A widely appreciated carrer diplomat, former ambassador to the US, he will be the real minister.

Lagarde was actually the CEO of Baker & McKenzie, a very real achievement for anyone and a bigger one for a foreigner. She has a lot of experience of the international corporate world, but not of the French technocracy. She's been back in France two years only, and has so far made a faultless career. She is "reform" minded but maybe too Americanised (she lived there for all her adult life) for the French administration and politicians. To be watched.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:01:28 PM EST
She might be too americanized for the French public too. Some language that is normal in the States absolutely doesn't fly in France.

I think Madelin in 1995 lost his position as a similar minister of Economy in a few days by being a bit too outspoken on his wish for liberal reforms...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:20:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An overall point: Sarkozy promised a tight government composed of 15 ministers, an "action team". I think we end up with 33+ the PM = 34. As usual, the lollipops have been handed out.

Some individual remarks: Dominique Bussereau is Raffarin's man, but was accounted a very efficient minister in the last government, and may owe his position to that (at least partly). He's back handling Transport, which is his speciality. Trouble is, his speciality is supporting aviation. This to me doesn't look like it offers hope of a more intelligent attitude to transportation, and looks like an element of proof (if needed) that Borloo's ecological maxi-ministry is there for show.

Like other economic liberals from the UDF/UMP (Alain Madelin, Gérard Longuet, Patrick Devedjian), Hervé Novelli was a founding member of the 1960s street-fighting extreme-right group Occident.

Roselyne Bachelot recently said she refused to celebrate Mother's Day, as her mother had taught her, because it was founded during the war by Pétain as part of the Vichy notion of woman and her proper place. That was good - but when Sarkozy came out with his deliberate reminder of Vichy (the Ministry for Immigration and National Identity) she didn't bat an eyelid.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:43:55 PM EST
Oh, I forgot: Jean-Louis Borloo is with the Radicaux Valoisiens in a phone booth ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:51:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is that the man/woman ratio is calculated only on the 15 'ministres', and not on the overall government. I understand Sarkozy trying this, but why do the media let him get away with it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 04:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean TF1 who's new #2 was Sarkozy's campaign boss? France television, headed by Carolis who got his job because he had made a nice documentary about the First Lady, Bernadette Chirac ? Le Monde which is ultimately headed by Alain Minc, über member of the vast Conservative Neo Liberal Blood Sucking conspiracy ? The numerous Lagardère-who-witnessed-on-our-new-President-wedding?

Yeah, I wonder, too.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 05:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, on the whole that government is very, very traditional. All tendencies of the majority are carefully represented, a couple "new and amazing" minister to have press articles but very bigwigs in the other important positions...

According to Le Monde today, it seems the former UDF centrists and liberals who joined the UMP in 2002 complained and threatened to form an independant group at the National Assembly from the UMP, which is why they got good representation in the government.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 05:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really understand why Bachelot is able to keep being a minister after all her gaffes - maybe the UMP bosses like to have somebody to point to and claim they aren't that reactionary. I don't believe in UMP fidelity to her Resistant Gaullist father.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 05:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
32 people! How is such a huge government ever going to get anything done?

By the way, the sleazy Couchner type had some really shady deals in Kosovo. He was the one who stole the telephone system order from Siemens and gave it to Alcatel, and returned the next year working for - Alcatel.

The Kosovo telephone system is still the worst in Europe, but everytime a Kosovar picks up a phone, money rolls into the Monegasque bank accounts...

This was all a part of the French policy for giving aid with one hand and robbing Kosovo with the other.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 06:06:56 PM EST
It should be noted a fair amount of those guys won't be doing nothing much, except writing "former Secrétaire d'Etat" on their cards, and are there as a thank you, to keep political balance between parties, or for the picture.

As for Kouchner, I hadn't heard about the Kosovo deal. The more egregious bad thing he did that the French sometimes know about is that he was paid 25000 € for writing a report whitewashing Total of accusations of forced labor in Myanmar. After a two days long inquiry...  Because of the scandal he gave the money to charity.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 06:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the Canard, Santini got his position because his suppléant, who will take his seat in parliament, was a close advisor of Sarkozy ; Fadela Amara had repeatedly asked the PS for a winnable circonscription in Paris but failed to get it, and was angry with the PS.

Sarkozy also tried to get the PS head of the Britanny region ; Eric Orsenna, former Mitterrand advisor and writer ; and Christiane Taubira, who is from Guyana, a member of the center left PRG and who was that party's candidate in 2002 (where she made a dent in the "minority" vote)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 12:09:52 PM EST
An excellent introduction to the government and through the writing an introduction into the likely developments and directions of the new government.


by gradinski chai on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 02:20:17 PM EST

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