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Jack Lang (French politician)

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Jack Lang
Lang at the Gay Pride in 2008
Member of the National Assembly
for Pas-de-Calais's 6th constituency
In office
19 June 2002 – 17 June 2012
Preceded byDominique Dupilet
Succeeded byBrigitte Bourguignon
Minister of National Education
In office
27 March 2000 – 5 May 2002
Prime MinisterLionel Jospin
Preceded byClaude Allègre
Succeeded byLuc Ferry
In office
2 April 1992 – 29 March 1993
Prime MinisterPierre Bérégovoy
Preceded byLionel Jospin
Succeeded byFrançois Bayrou
Government Spokesman
In office
17 May 1991 – 2 April 1992
Prime MinisterÉdith Cresson
Preceded byLouis Le Pensec
Claude Evin
Succeeded byMartin Malvy
Minister of Culture
In office
13 May 1988 – 29 March 1993
Prime MinisterMichel Rocard
Édith Cresson
Pierre Bérégovoy
Preceded byFrançois Léotard
Succeeded byJacques Toubon
In office
22 May 1981 – 20 March 1986
Prime MinisterPierre Mauroy
Laurent Fabius
Preceded byMichel d'Ornano
Succeeded byFrançois Léotard
Member of the National Assembly
for Loir-et-Cher's 1st constituency
In office
12 June 1997 – 27 April 2000
Preceded byMichel Fromet
Succeeded byMichel Fromet
In office
2 April 1993 – 9 December 1993
Preceded byMichel Fromet
Succeeded byMichel Fromet
In office
2 April 1986 – 28 July 1988
Preceded byProportional representation
Succeeded byMichel Fromet
Mayor of Blois
In office
20 March 1989 – 21 March 2000
Preceded byPierre Sudreau
Succeeded byBernard Valette
Personal details
Jack Mathieu Émile Lang

(1939-09-02) 2 September 1939 (age 84)
Mirecourt, France
Political partySocialist Party
Alma materSciences Po

Jack Mathieu Émile Lang (French pronunciation: [dʒak matjø emil lɑ̃ɡ]; born 2 September 1939)[1] is a French politician. A member of the Socialist Party, he served as Minister of Culture from 1981 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 1993, as well as Minister of National Education from 1992 to 1993 and 2000 to 2002.

He was also Mayor of Blois from 1989 until his resignation in 2000.[1] Lang is best known for originating the Fête de la Musique in 1982 as Culture Minister, an all day public music festival which occurs yearly on 21 June in France and throughout the world. Since 2013 he has been president of the Arab World Institute in Paris.

Early life[edit]

Jack Lang was born to Roger Lang and Marie-Luce Bouchet in Mirecourt, in the département of Vosges. His father was from a secular, assimilated, well-to-do Jewish family[2] based in Nancy. Roger Lang was the commercial manager of the family business which was founded by Jack's grandfather Albert. Roger and Albert were both freemasons. Jack's mother, Marie-Luce Bouchet, a Catholic, was born in 1919 to Emile Bouchet, who died in 1926, and Berthe Boulanger, a nurse who was also a freemason.[3]

In 1938, Albert and Roger sent their wives to Vichy because of the threat of war with Germany. After the German invasion, Albert Lang and his wife moved to Brive-la-Gaillarde in Corrèze. The very young Jack and his mother went to stay with his great-grandmother (the mother of Berthe Boulanger) in Cholet and subsequently moved to Bordeaux. His father Roger was first mobilized in Luneville, and then joined his parents and his brother-in-law Luc Bouchet in Brive. Jack and his mother also joined them in Brive after the bombing of Bordeaux. Jack Lang's father was sentenced by the court in Brive for failing to report his children as Jews, but was later acquitted by the Court of Appeal on the ground that the children's mother was a Catholic. He had followed the advice of the rabbi of Brive, David Feuerwerker.[4] Roger Lang was nevertheless placed under house arrest. Berthe Bouchet (Boulanger) visited the Langs in April 1942 when her daughter was about to give birth to her third child, Marianne. In 1943, Berthe was arrested in Nancy by the Gestapo for acts of propaganda and resistance. She was deported to Ravensbrück and died in the spring of 1945.[5]

Jack Lang studied political science at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, and went on to receive a postgraduate degree in public law. His career then focused on a combination of teaching and culture and the arts. He was the founder and producer of Festival du Monde in Nancy, was director of the Nancy University Theatre from 1963 to 1972, and then director of the Théâtre national de Chaillot from 1972 to 1974. At the same time he was a professor of international law from 1971 to 1981 at Nancy University and then Paris Nanterre University.[6] He married Monique Buczynski in 1961. The couple have two daughters.

In 1997, he was President of the Jury at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

Jack Lang by Olivier Meyer in January 2019


Lang entered politics as a Socialist member of the French National Assembly from Paris in 1977. He is best known for having served as Minister of Culture (22 May 1981 – 19 March 1986 and 13 May 1988 – 29 March 1993) and as Minister of Education (3 April 1992 – 29 March 1993 and 27 March 2000 – 5 May 2002).[1]

In 1981, while Minister of Culture, he created the Fête de la Musique, a massive celebration of music held on 21 June each year, where many amateur musicians give free open-air performances.[8] He is the co-founder and president of the Union of the Theatres of Europe.[9]

In August 1981, he created the Lang Law, which allows publishers to enforce a minimum sale price for books.[10]

In the 80s he contributed to the creation of the Europe Theatre Prize, born in 1986,[11] of which he is the current President.[12]

Lang was a Member of the European Parliament from 1994 to 1997.[1] In 2000, he stood unsuccessfully for Mayor of Paris. While he had planned to stand for president in 2007, he ultimately decided not to register as a candidate in the Socialist primary for the sake of party unity.[13]

In 2007, Lang agreed to become co-chairman of a commission drafting changes to the Constitution that were supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy but opposed by the Socialist Party. This decision provoked strong criticism from his party, leading him to end his role in the party leadership. When Parliament voted on the constitutional changes on 21 July 2008, he voted in favour, becoming the only Socialist deputy so to do. A three-fifths majority was required, and the changes passed by a vote of 539 to 357, meaning that Lang's support enabled the bill to pass by a one-vote margin. The Socialist Party denounced Lang for this vote; party spokesman Julien Dray said that he had "gone too far" and "no longer has his place in our political family", while Jean-Marc Ayrault, the President of the Socialist Parliamentary Group, said that Lang's vote was an act of "crossing the Rubicon". Lang replied by saying that it "is in nobody's power to strike me from the map of the French political landscape".[14]

In late 2009, Sarkozy appointed Lang his special envoy to North Korea, following a similar assignment earlier in the year to Cuba. Lang travelled to Pyongyang on 9 November 2009 for a self-described "listening mission" aimed at exploring bilateral ties and discussing the North Korean nuclear program, among other things. Lang briefed American officials including Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and special envoy Sung Kim, as well as ambassadors of countries involved such as Russia, before the assignment was publicly announced. Some critics questioned Lang's qualifications, but Lang said he would be driven by his "intuition" that change was afoot in North Korea.[15]

In August 2010, Lang became special adviser on piracy at the United Nations. He was brought in to advise on the prosecution of pirates off the coast of Somalia.[16]

In 2012 Lang was chosen as the Socialist Party candidate for the National Assembly in the second district in the Vosges department.[17] A controversial figure in the Socialist Party since his collaboration with Sarkozy, Lang's constituency was abolished during the national reapportionment and he failed to be nominated in several other constituencies before finally succeeding in the Vosges. The electorate in this department is considered by observers to be more conservative than in Lang's previous seat. Lang was criticized for being an 'outsider', to which he countered that he had been born in the region. Lang was narrowly defeated on the second round of voting in the election on 17 June 2012, winning 49.1% of the vote.[18]

Political career[edit]

Governmental functions[edit]

  • Minister of Culture: 1981–1986.
  • Minister of Culture, Communication, Great Works and of the Bicentennial: 1988–1991.
  • Minister of Culture and Communication, government spokesman: 1991–1992.
  • Minister of State, Minister of National Education and Culture: 1992–1993.
  • Minister of National Education: 2000–2002.
  • Special envoy to Cuba: February 2009.
  • Special envoy to North Korea: November 2009.

Electoral mandates[edit]

European Parliament

National Assembly of France

Regional Council

General Council

  • General councillor of Loir-et-Cher: 1992–1993 (Resignation).

Municipal Council



  • L'État et le théâtre. Paris: Librairie générale de droit et de jurisprudence. 1968.
  • Le plateau continental de la mer du Nord : Arrêt de la Cour Internationale de Justice, février 1969 LGDJ bibliothèque de droit international
  • Éclats (avec Jean-Denis Bredin), éditions Jean-Claude Simoën, 1978
  • Demain, les femmes, Grasset, août 1995
  • Lettre à André Malraux, Éditions 1, November 1996
  • François Ier, Perrin, octobre 1997
  • Les araignées, Pocket, 2000
  • La politique, d'où ça vient ? L'origine de l'État, Les fondements de la République, La genèse de l'impôt (avec Odon Vallet et Gaëtan de Séguin des Hons), Flammarion, août 2000
  • Qu'apprend-on au collège ? Pour comprendre ce que nos enfants apprennent (avec Claire Bretécher), XO éditions, janvier 2002
  • Anna au muséum, Hachette Jeunesse, avril 2002
  • Laurent le Magnifique, Perrin, août 2002 ISBN 978-2-262-01608-1
  • Une école élitaire pour tous, Gallimard, septembre 2003
  • Un nouveau régime politique pour la France, Odile Jacob, août 2004, ISBN 978-2-7381-1566-9
  • Nelson Mandela : Leçon de vie pour l'avenir, Perrin, janvier 2005 – ISBN 978-2-262-02194-8
  • Changer livre programme pour 2007, Plon, Septembre 2005, ISBN 978-2-259-20359-3
  • Immigration positive, avec Hervé Le Bras, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2006, ISBN 978-2-7381-1801-1
  • Faire la révolution fiscale, Plon, 2006, ISBN 978-2-259-20460-6
  • Demain comme hier, avec Jean-Michel Helvig, Fayard, 2009, ISBN 978-2-213-63846-1
  • La bataille du Grand Louvre, éditions Réunions des Musées Nationaux, 2010, ISBN 978-2-7118-5789-0
  • Ce que je sais de François Mitterrand, Le Seuil, 2011, ISBN 978-2-02-103793-7
  • François Mitterrand : fragments de vie partagée, Le Seuil, 2011 ISBN 978-2-02-103793-7
  • Pourquoi ce vandalisme d'État contre l'École : lettre au Président de la République, Éditions du Félin, 2011, ISBN 978-2-86645-765-5

Prefaces, forewords and other contributions[edit]

Critical studies and biographies of Lang[edit]

Festival de Nancy
  • Marie-Ange Rauch, Le théâtre en France en 1968, histoire d'une crise, thèse consacrée à l'histoire du théâtre en France (1945–1972), Nanterre, 1995, 475 pages. Voir chapitre 2 : « les étudiants le théâtre et le Festival de Nancy », pp. 135–143.
As Minister for Culture and Communication


  1. ^ a b c d "M. Jack Lang: Assemblée Nationale". Assemblee-nationale.fr. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  2. ^ Jack Lang: une vie entre culture et politique, Laurent Martin, Complexe, 2008, p. 26
  3. ^ Hivert-Messeca, Gisèle; Hivert-Messeca, Yves (23 March 2016). Femmes et franc-maçonnerie: Trois siècles de franc-maçonnerie mixte en France (de 1740 à nos jours) (in French). Dervy. ISBN 978-2-84454-865-8.
  4. ^ See, Laurent Joly. Vichy dans la "solution finale", 2006, Note 103.
  5. ^ "Bouchet". Encyclopédie de la Franc-Maçonnerie (in French). Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  6. ^ Looseley, David (February 1990). "Jack Lang and the politics of festival". French Cultural Studies. 1 (1): 6. doi:10.1177/095715589000100102. S2CID 154745593.
  7. ^ "Jack Lang". IMDb. Retrieved 8 November 2017.[unreliable source?]
  8. ^ "Has the French culture ministry lost its way?". Apollo Magazine. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  9. ^ Dekel, Ayelet (28 November 2011). "Ilan Ronen New President of UTE | MidnightEast". midnighteast.com. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Commission Communication to the Council on the creation of a Community framework system for book prices" (PDF). Archive of European Integration. 29 May 1985.
  11. ^ "Il Premio". Premio Europa per il Teatro (in Italian). Retrieved 21 December 2022.
  12. ^ "Organi del Premio". Premio Europa per il Teatro (in Italian). Retrieved 21 December 2022.
  13. ^ Kavanagh, Dennis; Riches, Christopher, eds. (2009). "Lang, Jack Mathieu Émile". A Dictionary of Political Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199569137.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-956913-7.
  14. ^ Samuel, Henry (21 July 2008). "Leading French Socialist dumped for supporting Nicolas Sarkozy reforms". The Daily Telegraph. UK.
  15. ^ Charlton, Angela (3 November 2009). "France wades into bog of North Korean diplomacy". Associated Press.[dead link]
  16. ^ "UN appoints Jack Lang as new Somalia piracy adviser". BBC News. 26 August 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  17. ^ [1] [dead link]
  18. ^ "Jack Lang, battu dans les Vosges, quitte l'Assemblée nationale - Politique". Lci.tf1.fr. 18 June 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Education
Succeeded by