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Monday, 21 November 2016

Nicolas Sarkozy quits politics…again

So the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has promised to leave politics.

His announcement came on the eve of his defeat in the first round of the primary to choose the candidate from the centre-right in next year’s presidential elections.

Nicolas Sarkozy (screenshot BBC News)

Sarkozy finished a distant third to his former prime minister during his five-year spell in office from 2002-2007, François Fillon, and blast-from-the-past hopeful (and another former prime minister) Alain Juppé.

Yes, how ironic that Fillon,  the man Sarkozy had described (apparently off-the-record) as his “assistant while the boss, that’s me” back in August 2007 “romped” to victory with just over 44 per cent of the four million who turned out to vote with Juppé (28.6) second and Sarkozy third (20.6).

The top two will now go head to head in a second round of voting on Sunday 27 November.

An unusually subdued and dignified Sarkozy thanked just about everyone possible during his speech in which he conceded defeat and gave his support in next Sunday’s round to his former “assistant” - moving many of his fans (because the cult of personality is and was at the core of Sarkozy’s approach to politics) to tears.

Sniff, sniff.

Just a shame the 62-year-old hadn’t been a little more noble and distinguished earlier in the day when he went to vote.

While Fillon, Juppé and the other four candidates had been happy to stand patiently in line while waiting to vote in their respective constituencies, Sarkozy, presumably not wanting to rub shoulders for too long with the (well-heeled) hoi polloi of the swanky XVI arrondissement in Paris, jumped the queue.

Jumped the queue.

Surely the way he will be lovingly remembered and treasured by his devotees.

And as for stepping out of the limelight to "have a life with more passion privately and less publicly”…cue that interview in March 2012 with Jean-Jacques Bourdin perhaps.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Rachida Dati’s “fascist, thug” 2013 text message to Brice Hortefeux

Well, it’s quite a while since either of these two French politicians has made the headlines.

But hey, here they are. Rachida Dati and Brice Hortefeux.

And what a handbags at dawn session they must have had when they were both frontline government ministers.

That’s if the text message sent by Dati to Hortefeux a couple of years ago (but revealed last week) is anything to go by.

It shows just how loving, friendly and understanding members of the same party and government can be towards each other.

Rachida Dati's text message to Brice Hortefeux (screenshot Mediapart's tweet)

Set the scene.

It’s September 2013.

And the former justice minister and current member of the European parliament and mayor of the seventh arrondissement of Paris (yes, wearing two political hats simultaneously - a very French tradition), Rachida Dati, whips of a text message to (take a deep breath…at least there’s some punctuation to allow you to respire while you’re reading) Brice Hortefeux, former interior minister and employment minister and also a current member of the European parliament and a councillor (and second vice president no less) for the recently-created region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes .

The two protagonists - both close to former (there’s evidently a lot this “pastness” going around) president (and wanna-do-it-all-over-again hopeful) Nicolas Sarkozy - clearly had what could be termed (politely) a “strained” relationship.

That’s going on the evidence of Dati’s SMS.

Rachida Dati (screenshot BFM TV September 2016)

The tone is set from the very opening words by Dati greeting Hortefeux with,“Salut le facho”!

And then continuing with a barrage of menaces such as revealing “the cash he had been given for a number of meetings involving Sarkozy without specifying what the money had been used for” and his “illegal employment of his wife at the European parliament”.

“Tu me fous la paix” (you can translate that for yourselves on one of the many online services, but it basically means “stop messing around with me” - but in a far more vulgar manner), Dati ends with a flourish, calling Hortefeux a “thug” and threatening once again that she won’t be fooled with.


Thanks Mediapart - a French online investigative and opinion journal - for sharing that apparently “private” email with us. Good work.

And the reason for Dati’s vitriol? Apart from the fact that the former ministers clearly didn’t get along.

Well, once again, according to Mediapart, it was because she had got wind of Hortefeux’s  suggestion that her “air and border police privileges be stopped”.

Behind the scene advisers apparently managed to calm the two (mainly Dati) and the incident is now no longer either wants to remember…with Hortefeux admitting on BFM TV that “relations with his former government colleagues had been difficult at times, but the page had now be turned.”

For the moment?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Name that French politician

A quick test (no cheating) for those of you who follow French politics and think you (might) know a thing or two.

Try to name some of the faceless wonders and barely memorable people who hold, or have held, a post in government under the current president, François Hollande.

It’s just a bit of “fun” after watching BFM TV presenter Jean-Jacques Bourdin conducting his daily grilling of a French politician. On Wednesday morning it was the minister of justice.

1. And that’s your first question. Who was in the “hot seat”? In other words, who is France’s minister of justice? (clue - it’s no longer Christiane Taubira - and hasn’t been since the beginning of 2016)

2. Who is Juliette Méadel (in other words, what’s her job)? And who is her immediate boss. (clue - she has had her current job since February 2015 indirectly succeeding Nicole Guedj who held the post for a year in 2004-2005)

Juliette Méadel (screenshot Europe 1, September 2016)

3. Who did Matthias Fekl (who?) replace as minister of state for foreign trade, the promotion of tourism and French nationals abroad? (clue - Fekl’s - who? - predecessor spent just one week in the job and is probably best known for his inability to pay bills/rent/taxes)

Matthias Fell (screenshot BFM TV)

4. Harlem Désir. Apart from surely having the coolest of names, what’s his government job (and does he actually do anything apart from draw a nice, fat salary - here’s a piece outlining some of the reactions when he was appointed to his current post in April 2014)

Harlem Désir (screenshot Public Sénat interview, January 2015)

5. Name the minister of state for higher education (clue - if it helps - he replaced Geneviève Fioraso in March 2015).

6. Can you name either of the junior ministers who work under Marisol Touraine, the minister of social affairs and health? (clue - their job titles are, respectively minister of state for disabled people and the fight against exclusion and minister of state for elderly people and adult care. And they’re both women).

7. Who replaced Sylvia Pinel in February 2016 when she left the government to take on more responsibility at a regional level? (clue - her job was split into one holding the housing and sustainable homes portfolio and another one of town and country planning, rural affairs and local government)

8. Three-part question this time.

How many ministers of sport have their been during François Hollande’s stint as president?

Who currently holds the job?

And does he use the same hairdresser as the president (they both seem to go for the badly dyed look)

9. A nice easy one…name the minister of culture and communication (clue - she’s a close friend of Julie Gayet but denies that had anything to do with her getting the job)

10. Finally, when there’s a full cabinet meeting, how many ministers in total are sitting around the table?

Check out the answers below. If you managed to name all the ministers then give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, in the knowledge that you’re probably better informed than many political hacks in France.



1 - the minister of justice is Jean-Jacques Urvoas

2 - Juliette Méadal is minister of state for victim assistance, a post she has held since February 2016. She reports directly to the prime minister, Manuel Valls.

3 - Matthias Fekl replaced Thomas Thévenoud as minister of state for foreign trade and the promotion of tourism in September 2014. Thévenoud was sacked after just one week in the job when it was revealed in Le Canard Enchainé that he suffered from "administrative phobia" and had “forgotten” to pay his rent for three months. Says a fair bit about Hollande’s judgement.

4 - Harlem Désir (gotta love the name) is minister of state for European affairs which, given that he had an appalling attendance record as a member of the European parliament, pretty much makes a mockery of his appointment.

5 - Thierry Mandon is the minister of state for higher education and research - a post the 58-year-old has held since June 2015.

6 - The two women who report directly to Marisol Touraine are Ségolène Neuville (minister of state for disabled people and the fight against exclusion) and Pascale Boistard (minister of state for elderly people and adult care).

7. When Sylvia Pinel resigned from the government in February 2016, her job was split in two. Emmanuelle Cosse took over as minister of housing and sustainable homes while Jean-Michel Baylet became minister of town and country planning, rural affairs and local government.

8 - During Hollande’s presidency there have been three different ministers of sport.

Valérie Fourneyron, May 2012 - March 2014
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem April - August 2014
Patrick Kanner - incumbent minister who, yes, has hair completely the wrong shade of very dark brown for a 59-year-old.

9 - In the February 2016 reshuffle Audrey Azoulay replace Fleur Pellerin as minister of culture. The appointment raised more than a few eyebrows, not only for the way cack-handed way in which the talented Pellerin was “thanked for her time” but also the fact that she way replaced by a woman close to Hollande’s not-so-secret girlfriend, Julie Gayet, and a former advisor to the president.


The current government (including prime minister Manuel Valls) numbers 38.
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