The Minister Of the Interior
The new Minister of the Interior is the former Minister of Defense, Michèle Alliot-Marie, known as MAM. There is an English-language summary of her accomplishments at Wikipedia.
She was born September 10, 1946 in Villeneuve-le-Roi in the department of Val-de-Marne. She became a University professor, a lawyer, a municipal councillor, and in 1986 was elected to the National Assembly as a member of the Gaullist party known as the RPR (Rassemblement pour la République). She has also been a European deputy and served for ten years as mayor of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
In 1999 she became president of the RPR party, the first woman to lead a major political party. This was the so-called Gaullist party to which Jacques Chirac belonged until 2002 when the RPR merged with UMP, a merger she is said to have opposed.
Chirac named her Minister of Defense in 2002.
Apparently she is not married, but her "life partner" is Patrick Ollier, UMP president of the National Assembly.
So much for the official facts. Regarding the woman herself, her values, her vision, her ideas, I have little to go on, but I dug up from Vox Galliae's archives this article posted during the presidential campaign when it was generally thought she would present herself as a candidate. As it turned out, she withdrew and endorsed Nicolas Sarkozy, who has obviously rewarded her with a plum ministry. The author of the article analyses what she would bring to the political debate:
(...) But will MAM bring something new to the political debate? No one can say because it is truly difficult to extract from her academic and exceptionally boring speeches two or three strong ideas that are new and different, as compared to the proposals of Nicolas Sarkozy or those of Dominique de Villepin.
The candidacy of Michèle Alliot-Marie is nothing more than a diversionary operation which, in the process, committed a gross impropriety when a veritable marketing hold-up seized the name and logo of Bruno Mégret's MNR.
Note: the above refers to the name of the movement she founded in 2006 - Le Chêne (The Oak Tree). An oak tree is also the symbol of Mégret's MNR. I don't know if she got his permission in advance, but she is still using the symbol at her website.
Oh yes, I forgot... MAM symbolizes the so-called Gaullist school of thought in the UMP party. Come on! Let her keep this small privilege that those under 30, in their ignorance, can never understand. This curious Gaullism, far removed from the orthodoxy of its founding fathers, is the "Gaullism" that has, since the Maastricht treaty, pursued a policy of federalism, the same policy that was massively defeated during the referendum on the European Constitution...
So we learn that MAM is a supporter of the EU, something I don't believe De Gaulle could have ever been considering his clear preference for national sovereignty. She would have to be pro-EU for Sarkozy to give her the Interior Ministry.
Now she is the top cop of France! She inherits the position held for several years by Nicolas Sarkozy himself. If and when there are riots, urban violence, crime, disturbances of any sort, she is responsible for the safety and security of the citizens and for the conduct of her police forces. She is now in charge of the National Police and the CRS (riot police). She will determine how far police can go to stop crime or capture criminals and she will plan the general strategies of national security. So she moves from national defense against external enemies to national defense against internal enemies. A bit like moving from the CIA to the FBI.
Recently a report was issued by the INHES (Institute of Higher Studies on Security) that exposes the extremely volatile situation in Seine-Saint-Denis due to the poor relations between the police and the population of that notorious department. In light of this report she has announced her first initiative, a "conference on cohesion", that will study strategies of crime prevention. (It isn't clear if she is studying jihad prevention as well.)
For those who read French there is an interview with Alliot-Marie at Le Monde. Asked if she was under surveillance in her new ministry, and if the recent appointments she made were imposed on her, she responded:
"The President demands results, that's normal. In all other things I have total freedom of action. After all, the final signature is mine, as is the responsibility. Nobody pressured me to make these appointments that were done according to a typical rotation method. I always like to have several candidates for each post."
Apparently key positions were given to close associates of Sarkozy and the implication is that she is controlled by her boss. But this is hardly surprising.
The interview elicited a few interesting responses from readers. here's one:
Madame MAM, you are in a ministry that claims it wants to break with the past. You ought to begin by saying: "My predecessor left me a frightful situation."