Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • South Korea ferry captain defends decision to delay evacuation

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

France

Michèle Alliot-Marie – a rare bird’s fall from grace

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-02-28

Over the years, Michèle Alliot-Marie picked up an impressive number of ministerial titles and steered clear of the scandals that have blighted the French government. And then along came Tunisia's popular uprising.

Until the Tunisian scandal broke, Michèle Alliot-Marie – or MAM as she is popularly called – was the rock-solid golden girl of French conservatism.

Alliot-Marie's CV reads as one of the most impeccable political pedigrees in modern French history, and one that defies the misogyny traditionally associated with the country’s politics.

ALLIOT-MARIE'S 'FIRSTS'

1999 - First woman to lead a major French party as president of the Gaulist Rally for the Republic (RPR) party.

2002 - First female minister of defence.

2007 - First female minister of the interior.

A practicing lawyer, MAM kicked off her political career in 1983 as a municipal counsellor in Ciboure, a village in south-west France. In 1986, she was elected to the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, to represent the Pyrénées-Atlantique region.

In the same year, she served in Prime Minister Jacques Chirac’s government as secretary of state for education. In 1993, Prime Minister Edouard Balladur appointed her as the minister of sport and youth affairs in his new cabinet.

When the Socialists came to power in 1997, Alliot-Marie ran for the presidency of the centre-right Rally for the Republic party (RPR) and, to everyone’s surprise, beat Chirac’s favoured candidate to become the first woman to lead a major French political party.

Ministerial grand slam

Alliot-Marie, at 64, is the only French politician to have scored a grand slam of senior ministries.

In 2002, she became the first woman to hold the portfolio of defence, a position she occupied for five years. As a resolute defence minister, she dealt with the crisis in Ivory Coast and defended France’s stance against the Iraq War. In 2006, Forbes magazine ranked her as the 57th most powerful woman in the world.

In the build-up to the 2007 presidential vote, she contemplated running against Nicolas Sarkozy to represent the right-wing UMP, but eventually decided to endorse Sarkozy instead. But she sought to cement her support within the party by launching “Le Chêne” (the Oak tree), a movement to revive Gaullist values.

After Sarkozy’s election to the presidency, Alliot-Marie was appointed as interior minister in Prime Minister François Fillon’s cabinet, before moving on to the Justice Ministry in 2009. In yet another first, she went on the next year to replace Bernard Kouchner at the Quai d’Orsay, becoming France’s first female minister of foreign affairs.

Scandal free – until now

As she glided from one senior ministry to another, Alliot-Marie proved particularly adept at steering clear of the undue drama and scandals that had long been a feature of French politics. But that all ended with her Christmas vacation in Tunisia.

'NOTHING THAT IS POLITICALLY REPREHENSIBLE'

In January of this year, it emerged Alliot-Marie had used the private jet of a businessman with close links to Tunisian strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali during a trip to the tourist-friendly North African nation with her husband, Patrick Ollier, who also happens to be a government minister.

At the time of the trip, ordinary Tunisians incensed at the rampant corruption and cronyism of the Ben Ali regime had already embarked on a popular uprising that would lead, only two weeks later, to the reviled president’s abrupt ouster.

Alliot-Marie’s shoddy defence only made matters worse. The French foreign minister was repeatedly forced to amend her account of events, not least when it emerged her parents had signed a property deal with the Tunisian businessman during the holiday.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 in February, Alliot-Marie said, “I’ve done nothing that is politically reprehensible.” She insisted that while she was on vacation she was “no longer the foreign affairs minister” - only to backtrack and later declare, “It’s true that one is a minister 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.”

Date created : 2011-02-16

  • FRANCE

    French PM joins minister aboard 'Air Dictator' scandal

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)