The "Vice-Prime Minister"
Alain Juppé, former Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac from 1995-1997, current Mayor of Bordeaux, former convicted felon, has been named Minister of State in matters of ecology, sustainable development, energy, transportation, urbanism, and industry.
First, regarding the title "Minister of State" (Ministre d'Etat), this title exists in various countries and has various meanings. Sometimes it is an honorary title; in France, it refers to the "preeminence" of the person holding the title, who becomes, in fact, "Vice-Prime Minister". The range of duties is extensive, and the ministry includes several formerly separate portfolios, such as ecology, transportation, and industry. Obviously, some of these sectors are in conflict with one another as this article from Yahoo explains:
(...) According to a communiqué from the council of ministers, Alain Juppé, besides the traditional duties of the Ministry of Ecology (water, waste removal and recycling, pollution, protection of the environment), will prepare and implement the government policies in the domains of sustainable development, environment, energy, raw materials, industrial security, transportation and its infrastructure, equipment, rural development, urbanism, development and outfitting of the territory and the sea, with the exception of fishing."
In other words, the minister holds a plurality of offices formerly reserved for separate ministries. (...) Notably it means that decisions relating to the development of nuclear security fall henceforth to Mr. Juppé, who will also arbitrate decisions on renewable energy sources. He is the one who will decide on the construction or closing of nuclear facilities, and thus will be instructing the EDF (Electricity of France).
Automobile traffic, speed laws, pollution from automobile emissions, construction of roads, highways, rapid train rails also are his responsibility, as well as the tax on trucks, advocated by Nicolas Sarkozy during the campaign.
On paper the extent of his powers is intended to reaffirm the importance of the environment in the eyes of the new President. In practical terms, the exercise is perilous because it implies that the new super-minister will be the permanent arbiter between players with divergent objectives. Highway or train? Incinerator or waste reduction at its source? Urban development or protection of nature? Wind farms or protection of the landscape?
For a look at a "wind farm" click here.
Information in Wikipedia tells us that Alain Juppé is generally considered to be of superior intellect. He was a brilliant student at Lycée Victor Duruy in Mont-de-Marsan where he received first prize in Greek and Latin studies. He obtained his high-school diploma ("baccalauréat") at age 17 and entered Lycée Louis-le-Grand's preparatory courses for those whose goal is specialized higher education. In 1964 he entered Normal School and received his "agrégation" in classical studies, and went on to the Institute of Political Studies and the National School of Administration (known as ENA).
Note: The "agrégation" has no real equivalent in English. It is a State administered test for those who intend to teach.
Alain Juppé early on became a collaborator of Jacques Chirac and worked his way up to become Prime Minister in 1995 when Chirac became President. He attempted to reform the French Welfare State and was rewarded for his efforts with a series of strikes and the threat of great social unrest. He became extremely unpopular among the people, as does any politician who attempts serious reforms of welfare programs.
Alain Juppé also advocated a union of all parties of the center-right and was the founder of the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) that is today Nicolas Sarkozy's majority party.
He has been involved in some scandals, the most highly publicized of which was the affair of fictitious jobs that took place between 1983 and 1995, when he was deputy mayor of Paris and Chirac was mayor. The story did not break until 1998 after Chirac had already been President for three years (and therefore had immunity) and sentence was passed in 2004.
In 2004, Alain Juppé was tried for the felony of abuse of public funds when he was general secretary of the RPR party, and the RPR illegally used personnel provided by the City of Paris for running its operations. He was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail sentence, the deprivation of civic rights for five years, and the deprivation of the right to run for political office for 10 years. He appealed against the decision, whereby his disqualification from holding elected office was reduced to one year and the suspended sentence cut to 14 months.
Read more about the scandals here.
Juppé's supporters claim he was unfairly convicted and took the rap for others (presumably Chirac). However as mayor of Bordeaux he has earned the contempt of many, if one is to judge by the left-wing website Bordeaux, where he is accused of everything under the sun, including fascism, racism, and lavishly entertaining mass murderers (Vladimir Putin).
However even the patriotic websites including Le Salon Beige call him a crook (at least on the message boards) and Le Pen has no regard for him. For Le Pen the issue was the way Juppé "arranged" to regain his position as mayor of Bordeaux, having relinquished it in light of the scandals. It seems he forced (or persuaded?) the entire city council to resign, making new mayoral elections a necessity in an off-year. This was seen as both costly to the taxpayers and illegal. But mayor of Bordeaux he is.
Regarding his personal life, all I have learned is that he has a son. There is no mention of a wife or ex-wife.