Breaking News: France Has A New Prime Minister.

It’s official. The new French PM is Dominique de Villepin. Nicholas Sarkozy (inside the tent) will be the new interior minister.

The FT has some biography on de Villepin, and this on Sarkozy and protectionism.

Update: Amandine at Animal Politique has some info and opinion on de Villepin.


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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

17 thoughts on “Breaking News: France Has A New Prime Minister.

  1. I’d have preferred Fran?ois Bayrou (out of people on the Right of course), but that was always a very long shot. It’s pretty remarkable Raffarin lasted as long as he did.

  2. We could be unwise to overlook this evocative biographical item for Dominique Villepin from the Washington Post of two years ago:

    “BRUSSELS [24 February 2003] — Was Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo a glorious moment in France’s history? In a best-selling account of Napoleon’s final days published two years ago, France’s multi-talented foreign minister, Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin, argues that, yes, even today, Napoleon’s defeat ‘shines with an aura worthy of victory.’ . . ”

    There are those who believe now that for some the spirit of Napoleon has tended to be a guiding inspiration in the progress of European integration:

    “My brother, if you mint coins, I want you to adopt the same divisions of value as in French money… I’ve already done the same thing for my own Kingdom of Italy. The confederated Princes have done the same thing. That way there will be uniformity of currency throughout Europe, which will make trading much easier.”

    Napoleon Boneparte (Napoleon I), 6 May 1807, in a letter to his brother Louis, King of Naples.

    “Monetary Union is the motor of European integration”
    Jean-Luc Dehaene, Prime Minister of Belgium.

    – from:

    “What is the market?” asked Balladur, who was Gaullist prime minister of France 1993-5.

    “It is the law of the jungle. And what is civilization? It is the struggle against nature.”

    As suggested before, this immortal piece of satire about the petition of the candlemakers by Fr?d?ric Bastiat from 1845 is still relevant to trade policy debates in Europe:

  3. It wasn’t all that long ago that Raffarin was being touted as the man of the people, the one who would break through the logjams and, not coincidentally, ease Chirac back to popularity, was it?

    How many PMs has be gone through? I’ve lost count…

  4. Villepin is the fourth in ten years. By contrast, Fran?ois Mitterrand had seven in fourteen.

  5. And Sarkozy back to Interior while staying as president of UMP (if I’m reading Le Monde with my dreadful French Correctly)? Wasn’t he made quit as finance minister because of a supposed rule that one can’t be a minister and party president at same time?

  6. If I rememeber rightly, it’s not so much a rule as something that Chirac “imposed” (albeit without any legal/constitutional prevision) in this specific instance, to undermine Sarkozy. (Am I right to say that Chirac himself was once both – Prime Minister – while leader of the RPR????)

    And DdV as PM? That’s surely bad news. Had hoped for Sarko, or, at least, Michele Aliot-Marie. He is the President’s man, and extraordinarily arrogant. Would be better if he’d stick to writing poetry

  7. erm.. sorry “provision” not “prevision”, obviously. I think there IS a constitutional rule (albeit one that was largely ignored until recently) that one is not supposed to hold two elective offices at once. Obviously this doesn’t concern Mr de Villepin one bit…

  8. This is bad news.
    I have a terrible opinion on Villepin. He is a poet (a clown in my opinion), he does not live in the world of facts, but in his own little world, made of french “grandeur”, “belles phrases” (phrases creuses, en fait) and principles.
    He is a typical example of the french diplomat, and should have stayed here. He is not a politician in the noble sens of the word (no engagement, no commitment, …), but a civil servant, in the french tradition. Never was elected. He is an aparatchik.
    And, of course, he is a fellow to the president. His politics will be fidelity only to Chirac’s choices, the same as Raffarin. No change. After two huge political downfalls (2004 in the european and regional elections, and 2005 with the refrendum), Chirac is being autist, is closing the doors, and resting in peace with his fellows. Ouch.
    The only surprising thing could be Sarkozy, who is said to come back in the governement. Apparently, he refused the PM seat. Strange attitude, to be confirmed.
    France is definitely in a deep political crisis.

  9. “I’d have preferred Fran?ois Bayrou”

    Interestingly he does seem to have been offered a participation in the government, with some other ministers from his party, but his condition seems to have been Sarkozy as pm. Sarkozy seems to have refused, sensibly from a political point of view, ‘burn out’ can be high in current circumstances.

    “I have a terrible opinion on Villepin.”

    This seems to be widely shared. The only real question would seem to be how long can he last. For the moment La France is ‘a la derive’.

  10. Interstingly the radio is talking about the DdV/Sarkozy ‘tandem’. This would suggest that DvP will be an incredibly weak pm, backed by a mortally wounded President, and the the real power could rapidly flow in the direction of NS.

  11. Edward : it sure is quite new. Chirac is the first president ever to announce the name of the new PM and of one of the ministers at the same time. It will be a “tandem”, but with opposite directions. Chirac and villepin on one side, representing old gaullist tradition, and Sarkozy, with the UMP on his side, on the other one, with a more free-market vision. Competition inside the governement will be our daily dish for the next 2 years.
    What an union !

  12. Chirac is the first president ever to announce the name of the new PM and of one of the ministers at the same time.

    Isn’t that, strictly speaking, unconstitutional?
    Doesn’t he need the PM to countersign ministers’ appointments?

  13. Well, Oliver, I don’t think it is unconstitutional, but it’s touching the limits.
    Article 8 :
    Sur la proposition du Premier Ministre, il nomme les autres membres du Gouvernement et met fin ? leurs fonctions
    On proposal of the premier, he nominates the other members of the government…
    So, we may assume that Villepin suggested Sarkozy’s name. Ahahah.
    Of course, when not in a “cohabitation”, nomination of gvt members is always made in common by the president and PM.

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