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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet's "killer" instinct as she attacks the "boys club" mentality in French politics

She's a woman with clear political ambitions and one viewed perhaps by some (herself included) as a potential future French president.

No, not the far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen - although there's no denying her increasing popularity - but Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet from the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP).

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (screenshot from BFM TV interview - April, 2013)

The self-confessed tough cookie with the "killer" instinct (is it perhaps easier to make these sorts of statements to a non-French media outlet in English?), gave an interview to NBC news this week in which she taok aim at the "boy's club" mentality within French politics and made pretty clear her ambitions.

The 40-year-old mother (important factor that - not least for NKM) of two is running for the position of mayor of Paris in next year's municipal elections and will most likely be the main challenger to the favourite, the Socialist party's Anne Hildalgo.

Why should it be important to NKM that she's a mother of two?

Well in the interview she says she was twice passed over for ministerial jobs because...she was pregnant.

Both the then-president Jacques Chirac and later (under Nicolas Sarkozy) the prime minister François Fillon, apparently told her she wouldn't a top job (although she was later given one in a reshuffle).

“They don’t realize what they are saying, she told NBC's Ian Johnston. "In fact, I’m not sure it was a real reason. I’m sure they had other reasons. [But] in their view, this reason was a good one," she added to show just how much of a "boys club" French politics still was and what an uphill struggle she and other women face.

No such words of understanding though for the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Instead NKM says DSK and men like him, represent another battle for her and women of her generation.

“This is the type of man against which women of my age have to fight for women aged 20 not to have a problem and not to feel this type of attitude,” she said about the man who recently told CNN he "doesn't have a problem with women."

But perhaps the most revealing part of the interview is how NKM perceives politics and her role - past, present and most definitely future.

Chirac's "emmerdeuse" seems to relish the "compliment" paid to her by the former president, and all the while accepting the "killer" reputation ("Everybody is a killer in politics") and - without making it too difficult to read between the lines - clearly setting out a political agenda which aims at the very highest office ("Politicians that say they have no ambitions are a little ridiculous.")

Here's the link to the full NBC article.

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