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Jean-Marc Ayrault

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Jean-Marc Ayrault
Ayrault in 2012
Prime Minister of France
In office
15 May 2012 – 31 March 2014
PresidentFrançois Hollande
Preceded byFrançois Fillon
Succeeded byManuel Valls
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
In office
11 February 2016 – 10 May 2017
Prime MinisterManuel Valls
Bernard Cazeneuve
Preceded byLaurent Fabius
Succeeded byJean-Yves Le Drian (Europe and Foreign Affairs)
Leader of the socialist group in the National Assembly
In office
12 June 1997 – 19 June 2012
Preceded byLaurent Fabius
Succeeded byBruno Le Roux
Mayor of Nantes
In office
20 March 1989 – 21 June 2012
Preceded byMichel Chauty
Succeeded byPatrick Rimbert
Mayor of Saint-Herblain
In office
14 March 1977 – 20 March 1989
Preceded byMichel Chauty
Succeeded byCharles Gautier
Member of the National Assembly
for Loire-Atlantique's 3rd constituency
In office
1 May 2014 – 12 March 2016
Preceded byJean-Pierre Fougerat
Succeeded byKarine Daniel
In office
23 June 1988 – 20 July 2012
Preceded byproportional representation per department
Succeeded byJean-Pierre Fougerat
Member of the National Assembly
for Loire-Atlantique
In office
2 April 1986 – 23 June 1988
Preceded byJean-Pierre Fougerat
Succeeded byJean-Pierre Fougerat
Personal details
Born (1950-01-25) 25 January 1950 (age 74)
Maulévrier, France
Political partySocialist Party
Brigitte Terrien
(m. 1971)
Alma materUniversity of Nantes

Jean-Marc Ayrault (French: [ʒɑ̃maʁk eʁo]; born 25 January 1950)[1] is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 15 May 2012 to 31 March 2014. He later was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2016 to 2017. He previously was Mayor of Nantes from 1989 to 2012 and led the Socialist Party group in the National Assembly from 1997 to 2012.

Early life


Born in Maulévrier in Maine-et-Loire,[1] Jean-Marc Ayrault is the son of Joseph Ayrault,[2] from Maulévrier, formerly an agricultural worker who was subsequently employed in a textile factory, and of Georgette Uzenot, a former seamstress who later became a full-time housewife.

His early schooling was at the St Joseph Catholic primary school in Maulévrier, after which, between 1961 and 1968, he attended the Lycée Colbert, in Cholet.[3] He subsequently studied German at the University of Nantes. In 1969/70 he spent a term at the University of Würzburg in Bavaria. He graduated with a degree in German in 1971 and in 1972 obtained his graduate teaching diploma. He stayed in the Nantes area for his probationary teaching year which was undertaken in Rezé. Between 1973 and his election to the National Assembly in 1986 he worked as a German language teacher in nearby Saint-Herblain.[4]

Political career


During his youth, Ayrault was a member of a movement of young Christians in rural areas. He joined the Socialist Party (PS) after the 1971 Epinay Congress during which François Mitterrand took the party leadership. Ayrault was affiliated to Jean Poperen's faction, one of the left-wing groups in the party. Elected in 1976 to the General Council of Loire-Atlantique département, he subsequently became Mayor of Saint-Herblain, located in the western suburbs of Nantes, in 1977. At 27, he was the youngest mayor of a French city of more than 30,000 inhabitants. He left the General Council in 1982.

He reached the PS national committee in 1979, then the executive of the party in 1981. He was first elected to the National Assembly in 1986, as representative of Loire Atlantique department, and he was consistently re-elected in subsequent elections. In 1989, he was chosen by the PS to conquer the mayoralty of Nantes, held by the Rally for the Republic (RPR) party, and he won. Re-elected in 1995, 2001 and 2008, he was also president of the Urban Community of Nantes Métropole since 2002. He was an important "local baron" of the Socialist Party.

After the surprising victory of the "Plural Left" in the 1997 legislative election, he was not appointed to the government but was instead designated as President of the Socialist parliamentary group in the National Assembly, a position he held for the next 15 years. Ayrault was a supporter of François Hollande during the Socialist Party's 2011 primary election to choose its presidential candidate. Hollande was ultimately elected President in the 2012 presidential election, and he appointed Ayrault as Prime Minister when he took office on 15 May 2012.

Prime Minister

Ayrault during a meeting in his constituency in Nantes with François Hollande

Following François Hollande's victory in the 2012 presidential election, Ayrault was appointed Prime Minister of France replacing François Fillon. The following day, Ayrault unveiled his Cabinet. In response to the Greek government-debt crisis he asked the European Commission to put unused structural funds towards helping the Greek economy return to growth and said "We waited too long before helping Greece. This has been going on for two years now and only gets worse..."[5] During his time in office, same-sex marriage was also legalized.

Ayrault's appointment to the country's head of government prompted discussion within Arabic language mass media as to how to pronounce his surname. When his name is pronounced properly in French, it sounds "very much like a moderately rude Lebanese [slang] term" for a phallus.[6] Al-Arabiya decided to pronounce the name properly and write its Arabic transliteration "in a way that makes clear it is not the offensive word"; CNN Arabic decided to pronounce Ayrault's surname by "voicing the last two letters in the written word."[6]

During his time in office, Ayrault and his ministers introduced a raft of progressive measures, including a reduction in the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some categories of workers, cuts in ministerial salaries of up to 30%,[7] a rise in the minimum wage, the introduction of a 36-month rent freeze on new contracts in some urban areas, an extension of social rebates on energy, increased educational support for low-income families,[8] the introduction of a system of subsidised employment for young people between 16 and 25,[9] and the extension of an entitlement to free health care to an additional 500,000 people.[10]

Ayrault resigned on 31 March 2014, the day after the "Socialists suffered heavy losses in nationwide municipal elections",[11] and formally handed over to his successor Manuel Valls at the prime ministerial residence, the Hotel Matignon, on 1 April 2014.[12]

Minister of Foreign Affairs


As part of a 2016 cabinet reshuffle, Hollande appointed Ayrault as foreign minister, replacing Laurent Fabius.[13]

Under Ayrault's leadership, the French foreign ministry summoned Vincent Mertens de Wilmars, Belgium's ambassador in Paris, in September 2016 after detaining two Belgian police officers on French territory for allegedly depositing migrants across the countries' border.[14]

In September 2016, Ayrault took part in the formal signing ceremony for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, a controversial $24-billion Franco-Chinese investment project.[15]

Other activities


On 12 November 2023, he took part in the March for the Republic and Against Antisemitism in Paris in response to the rise in antisemitism since the beginning of the Israel–Hamas war.[16]

Personal life


When President Hollande published a list of bank deposits and property held by all 38 ministers for first time 2012,[17] Ayrault declared personal assets worth 1.5 million euros.[18]

Political resume

Ayrault with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris, 30 July 2016

French Government

  • Prime Minister: 2012–2014.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: 2016–2017

National Assembly

  • President of the Socialist Group in the National Assembly of France: 1997–2012. Re-elected in 2002 and 2007.
  • Member of the National Assembly of France for Loire-Atlantique (3rd constituency): 1986–2012 (appointed Prime Minister in 2012). Elected in 1986, re-elected in 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012.

General council

  • General councillor of Loire-Atlantique, elected in the canton of Saint-Herbain-Est: 1976–1982.

Community Council

  • Président of the Urban Community of Nantes Métropole: 1992–2012 (Resignation). Re-elected in 1995, 2001, and 2008.
  • Member of the Urban Community Council of Nantes Métropole: since 1992. Re-elected in 1995, 2001, and 2008.

Municipal Council

  • Mayor of Saint-Herblain: 1977–1989. Re-elected in 1983.
  • Municipal councillor of Saint-Herblain: 1977–1989. Re-elected in 1983.
  • Mayor of Nantes: 1989–2012 (Resignation). Re-elected in 1995, 2001, and 2008.
  • Municipal councillor of Nantes: Since 1989. Re-elected in 1995, 2001 and 2008.



National honour


Foreign honours


See also



  1. ^ a b Roger, Patrick (15 May 2012). "Jean-Marc Ayrault, le "réformiste décomplexé". Le Monde (in French). Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  2. ^ Besson, Alain (2004). Jean-Marc Ayrault: une ambition nantaise. Nantes: Éditions Coiffard. p. 54. ISBN 2-910366-49-9.
  3. ^ "Jean-Marc Ayrault". le site de France Info (in French). Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Biographical note on the website for Nantes". Archived from the original on 15 June 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  5. ^ Wearden, Graeme (22 March 2011). "Eurozone crisis live: Greek and Spanish fears hit markets again". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  6. ^ a b Shair, Kindah (18 May 2012). "New French PM's name causes Arab giggles". CNN. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  7. ^ "hollande-tipped-majority-france-vote" Archived 18 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Yahoo! News.
  8. ^ "Policy Network – Publications". policy-network.net. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Youth Employment developments: France". Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l'Europe.
  10. ^ "La CMU pour 500.000 personnes de plus". Le Figaro. 11 December 2012. Archived from the original on 20 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  11. ^ Craggs, Ryan, "French Prime Minister Resigns: Jean-Marc Ayrault Tenders Resignation" Archived 3 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, The Huffington Post, 31 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Remaniement: retour sur une journée de tractations". BFMTV. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  13. ^ Anne-Sylvaine Chassany (11 February 2016), Hollande attempts to rally the left with reshuffle Archived 5 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine Financial Times.
  14. ^ Matthew Dalton and Gabriele Steinhauser (22 September 2016), France Summons Belgium’s Ambassador in Migrant Spat Archived 5 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine The Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ Kate Holton and Karolin Schaps (29 September 2016), UK signs long-awaited Franco-Chinese nuclear project behind closed doors Archived 5 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine Reuters
  16. ^ Bajos, Par Sandrine; Balle, Catherine; Bérard, Christophe; Berrod, Nicolas; Bureau, Éric; Choulet, Frédéric; Collet, Emeline; Souza, Pascale De; Doukhan, David (11 November 2023). "Marche contre l'antisémitisme : François Hollande, Marylise Léon, Agnès Jaoui... pourquoi ils s'engagent". leparisien.fr (in French).
  17. ^ Catherine Bremer (April 12, 2013), Ministers' wealth list to expose France's "caviar left" Archived 23 June 2021 at the Wayback Machine Reuters.
  18. ^ Catherine Bremer and John Irish (April 15, 2013), Wealth inventory exposes millionaires in French government Archived 23 June 2021 at the Wayback Machine Reuters.
  19. ^ Italian Presidency website, Sig. Jean-Marc Ayrault Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine (Primo Ministro) – Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana
National Assembly of France
Preceded by Leader of the socialist group
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Chauty
Mayor of Saint-Herblain
Succeeded by
Mayor of Nantes
Succeeded by
Patrick Rimbert
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Order of precedence
Preceded byas Former Prime Minister Order of precedence of France
Former Prime Minister
Succeeded byas Former Prime Minister