Dominique de Villepin

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Dominique de Villepin
Launch Republique Solidaire 2010-06-19 n04.jpg
Prime Minister of France
In office
31 May 2005 – 17 May 2007
President Jacques Chirac
Preceded by Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Succeeded by François Fillon
Minister of the Interior
In office
31 March 2004 – 31 May 2005
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Preceded by Nicolas Sarkozy
Succeeded by Nicolas Sarkozy
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
7 May 2002 – 31 March 2004
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Preceded by Hubert Védrine
Succeeded by Michel Barnier
Personal details
Born Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin
(1953-11-14) 14 November 1953 (age 60)
Rabat, Morocco
Political party RPR (prior to 2002)
UMP (2002-2010)
RS (2010-present)
Spouse(s) Marie-Laure de Villepin
Relations Xavier de Villepin (father)
Children Marie de Villepin
Arthur de Villepin
Victoire de Villepin
Alma mater IEP de Paris
École nationale d'administration
Panthéon-Assas University
Université Paris X Nanterre
Occupation Diplomat
Civil Servant
Lawyer
Author
Religion Roman Catholicism
Armoiries république française.svg
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Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin (French: [dɔminik də vilpɛ̃] ( ); born 14 November 1953) is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007.

A career diplomat, Villepin rose through the ranks of the French right as one of Jacques Chirac's protégés. He came into the international spotlight as Foreign Minister with his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq which culminated with a speech to the UN (French address on Iraq at the UN Security Council).

Villepin was indicted in connection with the Clearstream affair,[1][2] but was subsequently cleared of charges of complicity in allowing false accusations to proceed against presidential rival Nicolas Sarkozy regarding bribes paid on a sale of warships to Taiwan.[3] Villepin has enjoyed a modest return to public favour for his public critique of President Sarkozy's style of "imperial rule."[4]

He has written poetry, a book about poetry, and several historical and political essays, along with a study of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Villepin is an Honorary Member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

He has been one of the most vocal right-wing opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy, and on 8 September announced his candidature for President of France in 2012.[5] On 25 March 2010, he announced that he would form a new center-right political movement in order to offer an alternative to Sarkozy in the 2012 election.[6] However, Villepin failed to secure sufficient support to allow his candidacy to proceed [3].

Personal life[edit]

Villepin was born in Rabat, Morocco, and spent some time in Venezuela, where his family lived for four years. He graduated from the Lycée Français de New York in 1971.[7] He has three children: Marie (b. 1986), Arthur, and Victoire (b. 1989).

Villepin's family derives from the middle class (the family was never aristocratic, and was responsible for adding the particle "de" to their own name).[8] His great-grandfather was a colonel in the French army, his grandfather was a board member for several companies, and his father Xavier de Villepin, now retired, was a diplomat and a member of the Senate. Villepin speaks French, English and Spanish.

Career[edit]

Diplomat[edit]

Villepin studied at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po) and went on to the École nationale d'administration (ENA), France's highly selective post-graduate school which trains its top civil servants. Villepin also holds degrees in Civil law and French literature from the universities of Panthéon-Assas and Paris X Nanterre. At the end of his studies he completed his military service as a naval officer on board the Aircraft Carrier Clemenceau, Villepin then entered a career in diplomacy. His assignments were:

  • Advising Committee on African affairs (1980–1984)
  • The French embassy in Washington, D.C. (1984–1989), as premier secrétaire until 1987 and then deuxième conseiller
  • The embassy in New Delhi (1989–1992), as deuxième conseiller until 1990 and then premier conseiller
  • Foreign Ministry's top adviser on Africa (1992–1993)

Politician[edit]

Villepin was introduced to Jacques Chirac in the early 1980s and became one of his advisers on foreign policy. In 1993 he became chief of staff (directeur de cabinet) of Alain Juppé, the Foreign Minister in Édouard Balladur's cabinet, who was Chirac's political heir apparent.

Villepin then became director of Chirac's successful 1995 presidential campaign and was rewarded with the key job of Secretary-General of the Élysée Palace during Chirac's first term as President of the Republic (1995–2002). He advised the president to hold an early general election in 1997, while the French National Assembly was overwhelmingly dominated by the president's party. This was a risky gamble, and Chirac's party went on to lose the elections. Villepin offered Chirac his resignation afterwards, but it was turned down. Villepin's flawed advice on the election increased the perception among many politicians on the right that Villepin had no experience or understanding of grassroots politics, and owed his enviable position only to being Chirac's protégé.

Villepin has had an uneasy relationship with the members of his own political side. He has in the past made a number of demeaning remarks about members of parliament from his own party. In addition, the mutual distaste between Villepin and Nicolas Sarkozy, head of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) majority party, is well-known.

Foreign Minister[edit]

He was appointed Foreign Minister by Chirac in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin at the beginning of Chirac's second term in 2002.

During the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti, Villepin obtained the backing of the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his bid to oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power.

Villepin's most famous assignment as Chirac's Foreign Minister was opposing the U.S. plan to invade Iraq, giving France a leading role in the grouping of countries such as Germany, Belgium, Russia and China that opposed the invasion. The speech[9] he gave to the UN to block a second resolution allowing the use of force against Saddam Hussein's regime received loud applause.

During mid-2003 Villepin organized the Opération 14 juillet that attempted to rescue his former student, Ingrid Betancourt, who was being held by FARC rebels in Colombia. The operation failed, and because he had neither informed Colombia, Brazil, nor President Chirac of the mission, it resulted in a political scandal.

Interior Minister[edit]

During the cabinet reshuffle that made Nicolas Sarkozy Finance Minister, Villepin was appointed to replace him as Interior Minister on 31 March 2004.

His actions against radical Islam included mandatory courses for Muslim clerics, notably in the French language (a third of them may not be fluent in the national language), in moderate Muslim theology and in French secularism: laïcité, Republican principles and the law. While Sarkozy created the French Council of the Muslim Faith, an official body which is now dominated by Orthodoxes, Villepin would have preferred a "Muslim foundation", in which mosque-based representatives would be balanced by secular Muslims.

He also cracked down on radical Muslim clerics, causing an uproar when he tried to expel Abdelkader Bouziane, an imam alleged to have said to the press that, according to Ancient Islamic texts, adulterous people could be whipped or stoned. When the decision to expel him was overturned by the courts, because of the journalistic reporting of LyonMag was deemed biaised, Villepin pushed a change of the law through Parliament, and Bouziane was sent home.

Prime Minister[edit]

President Chirac was at one point thought to have turned his eye on Villepin as a possible successor, assuming that he himself would not enter the 2007 presidential contest. However, Nicolas Sarkozy was chosen to represent the centre-right UMP party.

On 29 May 2005, French voters in the referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe turned down the proposed document by a wide margin. Two days later, Raffarin resigned and Chirac appointed Villepin as Prime Minister.

Contrat Première Embauche (First Employment Contract)[edit]

On Thursday, 16 March 2006, tens of thousands of French university and school students marched to demand the government scrap a contentious youth jobs clause, known as First Employment Contract (CPE). The law, intended as a response to the 2005 riots, was intended to stimulate job growth and arrest the 23% youth unemployment rate by allowing employers to fire employees aged under 26 within the first two years of their employment for any or no reason. Supporters of the law argued that such probationary arrangements are not unusual in Western countries and that the current system in France discourages employers from hiring people whom they may be unable to fire if they prove unsuitable for the job. Critics argue that it discriminates unnecessarily against the young and decreases job security. The union movement issued an ultimatum to Villepin to scrap the law by 20 March or face a general strike. This ultimatum expired without concession. A general strike was called for 28 March.

General strike, demonstrations, and the fall of Villepin[edit]

On 28 March, between one and three million people demonstrated across France. The protests were accompanied by some violence and 800 people were arrested, 500 of them in Paris. Prime Minister Villepin refused to withdraw the CPE but called for negotiations on adapting it. The demonstrators for the most part called for the complete withdrawal of the CPE.

The CPE was withdrawn by Jacques Chirac on 10 April.[10]

More unrest for Villepin[edit]

On 20 June 2006, during the questions to government in the National Assembly, Dominique de Villepin accused head of the Socialist Party François Hollande of cowardice.[11] Hollande had questioned the Prime Minister about the recent "insider trading" scandal involving the aerospace company EADS and executive Noël Forgeard. This triggered an incident in the Assembly, with Socialist deputies converging on the government benches until they were stopped by the Assembly ushers. Hollande demanded apologies and the resignation of the Prime Minister;[12] the next day, Dominique de Villepin apologized. This event resulted in criticism even from Villepin's own UMP party, with UMP parliamentarians including Assembly vice-president Yves Bur suggesting that president Chirac should appoint another Prime Minister.[13]

Clearstream affair[edit]

In 2004, French judges were given a list by an anonymous source containing the names of politicians and others who, it was alleged, had deposited kickbacks from a 1991 arms sale to Taiwan into secret accounts at Clearstream, a private bank in Luxembourg. The most prominent name on the list was that of Nicolas Sarkozy, Villepin's rival for power in the UMP. The list was later shown to be fraudulent, a discovery Villepin kept from the public for 15 months at a time when the two men were vying for party supremacy.[14] Meanwhile, the source of the list was later revealed to be a longtime associate of Villepin's, one Jean-Louis Gergorin, an executive at EADS. Critics claimed that Villepin, perhaps with the support of then-president Jacques Chirac, had tried to defame his rival. Sarkozy, in turn, filed a suit against whoever was behind the creation of the Clearstream list. An investigation continues.[15]

Presidential bid[edit]

There was speculation that Villepin might be a candidate in the 2007 Presidential election; however, interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy was selected unopposed as the UMP's presidential candidate on 14 January 2007.[16] On 12 March 2007 Villepin formally endorsed Sarkozy for President.[17]

Villepin's first cabinet[edit]

In an address to the nation, Chirac had declared that the new cabinet's top priority would be to curb unemployment, which was consistently hovering above 10%, calling for a "national mobilization" to that effect.

Villepin's cabinet was marked by its small membership (for France), and its hierarchical unity: all members had the rank of Minister, and there were no Secretaries of State, the lowest cabinet member rank. The aim of this decision was for the cabinet to form a close-knit and more efficient team to combat unemployment.

The economy was growing sluggishly and a significant drop in unemployment was yet to be seen. Villepin's aim was therefore to restore the French people's trust in their government, an achievement for which he publicly set himself a deadline of a hundred days from the appointment of cabinet.

Another issue was the European Constitution, rejected by France and the Netherlands in referenda.

Some had speculated that Villepin, with his diplomatic experience and the prestige associated with the job of Prime Minister, would negotiate a new treaty with the European Union, while Sarkozy would run the country at home. However, Villepin obtained favorable reviews from the press and temporarily increased popularity in polls. In particular, he was increasingly cited as a possible presidential candidate for 2007, although Nicolas Sarkozy had publicly stated that he himself was giving considerable attention to that election. Villepin and Sarkozy initially avoided any open division.

Villepin declared that lowering unemployment was the number one objective of his government (which had also been stated by other prime ministers before him, albeit to no avail). He, as well as the UMP party, believed that France's workforce rules were too rigid and discouraged employment, and that some liberalizing reforms were necessary in order to "correct" the French social model.

On 2 August 2005 he issued ordinances establishing a new kind of work contract (called CNE) for small enterprises, with fewer guarantees than ordinary contracts. While Villepin's measures would surely have been approved by his wide UMP majority in Parliament. Villepin said the government needed to act fast, especially when Parliament was going on its summer recess.

On 16 January 2006 he announced a similar kind of work contract (called Contrat première embauche, or CPE) for young people (under 26). The parliament approved on 8 February. Subsequently students started to protest. This wave of protest eventually forced the government to give in. Although the law on the CPE is formally still valid, the government promised to hinder its application and initiated a new legal initiative which will abolish the key points of the CPE. During the protests, Villepin was widely perceived as stubborn and arrogant. As a consequence, his popularity rates went down rapidly and he was no longer regarded as a serious contender for the 2007 presidential election.

Another major issue in Villepin's government was the state of the national budget. France runs high deficits, which run afoul of the rules set in the EU Maastricht Treaty. Villepin's margin of maneuver in that respect was extremely slim.

Cabinet membership[edit]

Ministers

Delegate ministers

Shuffles[edit]

26 March 2007[18]

5 April 2007[18]

  • Azouz Begag ceases to be delegate Minister for equal opportunities and is not replaced.

Resignation[edit]

On 15 May 2007, the last full day of President Jacques Chirac's term, Villepin tendered his resignation from the office of Prime Minister and it was accepted by the President.[19] He was replaced two days later by François Fillon.

Post Prime Ministerial career[edit]

Context of Villepin's political career[edit]

Villepin has never held elected office; the French Constitution allows the president to appoint unelected ministers. This is a political liability for him, because he is periodically accused of being out of touch with the realities of ordinary citizens. He is also reported to despise elected officials, calling members of Parliament connards (an insult).[20] Villepin is not the first "unelected" prime minister, even in the relatively short history of the Fifth Republic: notable predecessors include Georges Pompidou, who was a banker before being called to office, and Raymond Barre, who had a previous career as a professor and appointed official, and started an elected career only after being Prime minister.

Clearstream trial[edit]

On the first day of the civil trial for his part in the Clearstream Affair, Villepin accused Pres. Sarkozy of pursuing him for political reasons. Sarkozy has the status of a civil plaintiff in the case.[21]

On Thursday, 28 January 2010, the judgement was finally handed down and Villepin was acquitted of every accusation against him in the affair. The following morning the prosecution announced that it would file an appeal against this verdict, thus further dragging out the affair another year. Villepin was finally cleared by an Appeals Court in September 2011.[22]

République Solidaire and Presidential Run[edit]

In 2011, Villepin quit the UMP and set up a new party, République Solidaire, with the aim of running for president in the 2012 elections.[23] However, he failed to secure the 500 necessary "parrainages" endorsements from elected officials in the preliminaries to the Presidential race, and his candidacy did not proceed.[24]

Awards[edit]

Bibliography: works written by Villepin himself[edit]

  • 2001: Les Cent-Jours ou l'esprit de sacrifice (Perrin, 2001 – Le Grand livre du mois, 2001 – Perrin, 2002 – Éditions France loisirs, 2003); a book about the "One Hundred Days" between the return of Napoleon from Elba and the defeat at the Battle of Waterloo; awarded the Grand Prix d'Histoire of the Fondation Napoléon (2001) and the Prix des Ambassadeurs (2001).
  • 2002: Le cri de la gargouille (Éditions Albin Michel, 2002. Librairie générale française, 2003), a "meditation" upon French politics, an analysis of differing aspects of the French political character.
  • 2003: Éloge des voleurs de feu (NRF-Gallimard, 2003), in English On Poetry, which is some reflections on the subject; Villepin is said to have worked on the final draft during the UN session where the French successfully blocked authorization of the 2003 War in Iraq.
  • 2003: Un autre monde (l'Herne, 2003), preface by Stanley Hoffmann, translator, Toward a new world: speeches, essays, and interviews on the war in Iraq, the UN, and the changing face of Europe (Melville House Publishing, c2004), a selection of speeches by Villepin as Foreign Minister, with commentary by Hoffman, Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Norman Mailer, Régis Debray, Mario Vargas Llosa, others.
  • 2003: Preface to Aventuriers du monde 1866–1914 : Les grands explorateurs français au temps des premiers photographes (L'Iconoclaste, 2003), collective work.
  • 2004: Preface to l'Entente cordiale de Fachoda à la Grande Guerre : Dans les archives du Quai d'Orsay, Maurice Vaïsse (Éditions Complexe, 2004).
  • 2004: Preface, with Jack Straw, to l'Entente cordiale dans le siècle (Odile Jacob, 2004).
  • 2004: Preface to 1905, la séparation des Églises et de l'État : les textes fondateurs (Perrin, 2004).
  • 2004: Preface to Mehdi Qotbi : le voyage de l'écriture (Paris : Somogy, 2004 – Paris : Somogy, 2005), "published on the occasion of an exhibition organized by the Institut Français du Nord and Attijariwafa Bank, presented at the Galerie Delacroix of the Institut français du Nord at Tangiers from 25 June to 5 September 2004 and at the Espace d'Art Actua of the Attijariwafa Bank, Casablanca, Oct–Dec 2004" – Villepin has a personal connection with the Maghreb and the Third World – "born in Rabat, raised in Latin America", as the bios put it;
  • 2004: Le requin et la mouette (Plon : A. Michel, 2004), essay.
  • 2005: Histoire de la diplomatie française with Jean-Claude Allain, Françoise Autrand, Lucien Bély (Perrin, 2005).
  • 2005: L'Homme européen, with Jorge Semprún (Plon, 2005 – Perrin, octobre 2005), a pamphlet in favour of the Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe.
  • 2005: Urgences de la poésie ([Casablanca] : Eds. de la Maison de la Poésie du Maroc, July 2005) tr. into Arabic by Mohamed Bennis, illustr. by Mehdi Qotbi; includes three poems by Villepin himself, "Elegies barbares", "Le droit d'aînesse", and "Sécession".
  • 2006:,[26] The Globalist, 3 March 2006.

Bibliography: general[edit]

  • 1986: Villepin, Patrick de, Encore et toujours : François Xavier Galouzeau de Villepin, 1814–1885, un Lorrain émigré à Paris au XIXe siècle (Paris (21 rue Surcouf, 75007) : P. de Villepin, 1986)
  • 1987: Villepin, Patrick de, "Maintenir" : histoire de la famille Galouzeau de Villepin (1397–1987) ([Paris] (21 rue Surcouf, 75007) : P. de Villepin, 1987)
  • 2004: Le Maire, Bruno, Le ministre : récit (Paris : B. Grasset, 2004) ISBN 2-246-67611-8.
  • 2005: Derai, Yves et Mantoux, Aymeric, L'homme qui s'aimait trop (Paris : l'Archipel, impr. 2005) ISBN 2-84187-753-1.
  • 2005: Saint-Iran, Jean, Les cent semaines (Paris : Privé, DL 2005) ISBN 2-35076-011-1.

Quotes[edit]

  • L'option de la guerre peut apparaître a priori la plus rapide. Mais n'oublions pas qu'après avoir gagné la guerre, il faut construire la paix. ("The option of war might seem at first to be the swiftest. But let us not forget that having won the war, one has to build peace." (address on Iraq at the United Nations Security Council on 14 February 2003, shortly before the US-led invasion of Iraq[27])
  • We need a strong policy to combat radical Islam. It is used as a breeding-ground for terrorism. We cannot afford not to watch them very closely. As Interior Minister, December 2004.
  • With the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, a dark era is drawing to a close. And we welcome it... Together we must now build peace in Iraq and for France this has to mean the United Nations having a central role. Together we must build peace throughout the region and this can be done only through the determined search for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[28]
  • Let us have the courage to declare a first truth: International law does not give a right to security which engages, in return, a right to occupy and even less so, a right to massacre. There is a right to peace, and that right is the same for all peoples. The security which Israel seeks today, is done so against peace and against the Palestinian people.[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Villepin faces charges in smear campaign in France", International Herald Tribune, 27 July 2007.
  2. ^ Bremner, Charles (6 July 2007). "De Villepin likely to face conspiracy charges". The Times (UK). Retrieved 6 July 2007. 
  3. ^ "France ex-PM Villepin cleared of Sarkozy smear", BBC News, 28 January 2010 
  4. ^ Lichfield, John (18 February 2008). "Top politicians warn of 'Sarkozy the monarch'". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  5. ^ "Dominique de Villepin souhaite pouvoir être candidat en 2012'". NouvelObs. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2009. 
  6. ^ Samuel, Henry (25 March 2010). "Dominique de Villepin launches new party with swipe at Nicolas Sarkozy Dominique de Villepin, France's former prime minister, has officially launched a new political movement with a swipe at the "failure" his arch-rival, Nicolas Sarkozy.". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Lycée Français de New York Alumni Association
  8. ^ "Nicolas Sarkozy has the last laugh on 'aristocratic' rivals" by Henry Samuel,The Daily Telegraph, 8 December 2009
  9. ^ "Statement by Dominique de Villepin to the UNSC". Foreignpolicy.org.tr. 14 February 2003. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "French students set for jobs law 'victory march'". The New Zealand Herald. 11 April 2006. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Assemblée nationale ~ Deuxième séance du mardi 20 juin 2006". Assemblee-nationale.fr. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  12. ^ Libération – Toute l'actualité monde, politique, société, culture, débats... sur Liberation.fr[dead link]
  13. ^ e-TF1. "Assemblée : Villepin présente ses excuses à Hollande – France – LCI". Tf1.lci.fr. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  14. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (11 July 2007). "De Villepin could face charges over smear plot against Sarkozy". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  15. ^ CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/22/world/main1640276.shtml |url= missing title (help). [dead link]
  16. ^ "Sarkozy nod for presidential run". BBC News. 14 January 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Sciolino, Elaine (13 March 2007). "French Premier Throws Support for Presidency to Political Rival". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  18. ^ a b "Remaniement ministériel: communiqué de la Présidence de la République. – Présidence de la République". Elysee.fr. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  19. ^ "Démission du gouvernement: communiqué. – Présidence de la République". Elysee.fr. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Libération – Toute l'actualité monde, politique, société, culture, débats... sur Liberation.fr[dead link]
  21. ^ "Villepin Rejects Sarkozy Slander Charges"[dead link]
  22. ^ "Appeals court clears de Villepin of smear charges
  23. ^ Angelique Chrisafis (14 April 2011). "Sarkozy's arch-enemy Villepin outlines his political manifesto". The Guardian (UK). 
  24. ^ nouvelobs.com: "EN DIRECT. Villepin renonce à sa candidature" 16 Mar 2012
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ The Globalist. "The French Vision of European Identity". Theglobalist.com. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  27. ^ [2][dead link][dead link]
  28. ^ "In Sainte-Maxime, 10.04.2003". Ambafrance-uk.org. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  29. ^ de Villepin, Dominique (2 August 2014). "To Raise the Voice in View of the Massacre in Gaza". The World Post. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Samuel, Henry (1 June 2010). "Dominique de Villepin turned into comic-book hero". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  31. ^ Lemercier, Fabien (27 September 2012). "Bertrand Tavernier to plunge into the secretive Quai d'Orsay". Cineuropa.org. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Hubert Védrine
Secretary-General of the Presidency of the French Republic
1995–2002
Succeeded by
Philippe Bas
Preceded by
Hubert Védrine
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2002–2004
Succeeded by
Michel Barnier
Preceded by
Nicolas Sarkozy
Minister of the Interior
2004–2005
Succeeded by
Nicolas Sarkozy
Preceded by
Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Prime Minister of France
2005–2007
Succeeded by
François Fillon