France: Villepin’s cabinet announced

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Newly named Prime Minister of France Dominique de Villepin has had his cabinet accepted by President of the Republic Jacques Chirac.

Head of the majority Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, Nicolas Sarkozy, comes as a second-in-command as Minister of the Interior, with the honorific rank of Minister of State. The Ministry of the Interior is traditionally one of the most important positions in the cabinet, with that of Finances; the Minister of the Interior is in charge, notably, of law enforcement and relationships with local governments. There is some uneasiness in having the head of a party in a position that is partly in charge of electoral redistrictings. Also, this arrangement creates a peculiar situation: it is public knowledge that Villepin and Sarkozy consider each other a dangerous political rival with respect to the 2007 presidential election, and they are widely said to loathe each other.

The cabinet was presented as a “restricted” cabinet. However, as many as 31 ministers, delegate ministers and secretaries of state were named; still, this is a reduction from the preceding 43. While the cabinet is for a large part copied from the preceding one, some ministers who had provoked controversy and animosity were removed or moved to another less risky position. François Fillon, formerly Minister of National Education, whose plan for reforming public education was lambasted by members of his own party, including president of the National Assembly Jean-Louis Debré, was ruled partly unconstitutional by the Constitutional Council, and provoked widespread student protests and unrest in high schools, is no longer a minister. Dominique Perben, who pushed for controversial law which opponents allege curtail fundamental constitutional freedoms while Minister of Justice, was moved to the less sensitive position of Minister of Transportation and Equipment. It is also possible that the movement of Brigitte Girardin from Minister for the Oversea (relationships with French overseas departments and territories) to (international) Cooperation was motivated by the crisis that occurred in French Polynesia between Gaston Flosse and his opponent Oscar Temaru.

While the Union for French Democracy (UDF) party, led by François Bayrou, formally remains in the ruling coalition along with the UMP, it has decided that, because the new government would probably do more of the same policies, it would not participate in it. The only member of the government from UDF is Gilles de Robien, as in the preceding government.

Previous head of government Jean-Pierre Raffarin had lost the confidence of the French, with polls putting him as low as 22% confidence. President Chirac’s confidence among the citizenry is also a record low of 24%.

Mr Dominique de Villepin is Prime Minister.

  1. Mr Nicolas Sarkozy — Minister of State, Minister of the Interior and of the management of the Territory (law enforcement, French National Police, French Gendarmerie; relationships with local governments; safety regulations; territory subdivisions)
  2. Mrs Michèle Alliot-Mariew:Minister of Defense (France)
  3. Mr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  4. M. Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister of employment, social cohesion and housing
  5. M. Thierry Breton, Minister of Economy, Finances and Industry
  6. M. Gilles de Robien, Minister of National Education, of Higher Education and Research;
  7. M. Pascal Clément, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice;
  8. M. Dominique Perben, Minister of Transportation, Equipment, Tourism and the Sea (national roads, help to local governments for transportation, some government constructions)
  9. M. Xavier Bertrand, Minister of Health and Solidarities;
  10. M. Dominique Bussereau, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries;
  11. M. Christian Jacob, Minister of the Civil Service|;
  12. M. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, Minister of Culture and Communications; (museums, cultural activities, supervision of broadcasting)
  13. Mrs Nelly Olin, Minister of Ecology and sustainable development;
  14. M. François Baroin, Minister for the Oversea;
  15. M. Renaud Dutreil, Minister for small and middle businesses, Commerce, artisans, and self-employed professionals
  16. M. Jean-François Lamour, Minister of Youth, Sports and associative life.

Delegate ministers operate as subordinates of ministers.

  1. Mr Henri Cuq, delegate minister for relationships with Parliament;
  2. Mr Azouz Begag, delegate minister for the promotion of the equality of chances;
  3. Mr Jean-François Copé, delegate minister for budget and the reform of the State, spokesman of the Government;
  4. M. Gérard Larcher, delegate minister for employment, work, and the professional insertion of the young;
  5. Mrs Catherine Vautrin, delegate minister for social cohesion and parity [of the sexes];
  6. Mrs Brigitte Girardin, delegate minister for [international] cooperation, development and francophonie;
  7. Mr Brice Hortefeux, delegate minister for local governments;
  8. Mrs Catherine Colonna, delegate minister for European affairs (relationships with the European Union and other members thereof);
  9. Mr François Goulard, delegate minister for higher education and research;
  10. Mr Léon Bertrand, delegate minister for tourism;
  11. Mr Philippe Bas, delegate minister for Social Security, the elderly, the handicapped, and family;
  12. Mr François Loos, delegate minister for industry;
  13. Mrs Christine Lagarde, delegate minister for foreign commerce;
  14. Mr Hamlaoui Mékachéra, delegate minister for war veterans;
  15. M. Christian Estrosi, delegate minister for the management of the territory.
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