Dati under fire for finding politics 'funny'
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French Minister of Justice Rashida Dati (pictured) has come under fire for what some felt were flippant responses to questions posed by members of her own party at a convention Wednesday on the European Union.
French Minister of Justice Rashida Dati raised eyebrows once again on Wednesday evening with what some felt were flippant responses to questions posed by members of her own party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
At a convention on the European Union organised by young UMP members, Dati – who will be a candidate for EU parliamentary elections in June – offered only vague answers and showed little enthusiasm for her subject.
Asked whether the EU is too involved in the political affairs of member nations, she offered, at best, a muddled response. The EU “involves itself with what we give it to involve itself, with the people who can handle the issues to be handled,” she said enigmatically.
Asked about nuclear energy she seemed nonchalant, saying that policy on this issue had already been reiterated “just a little”, prompting laughter from the audience.
French media reported that Dati took a similar tone throughout her remarks and derided her for failing to take the EU convention seriously. French radio and television stations said she could barely contain her amusement and criticized her for failing to provide clear, thoughtful replies to legitimate questions from the public.
Faced with the criticism, Dati said on Thursday that the convention had come as tense relations with the popular UMP youth movement were easing, and that the moment called for some harmless parody. “We laughed a lot, then afterwards we worked on the issues in depth,” she said.
“Politics can also be funny,” she added.
And the minister is not without her supporters. The UMP’s secretary-general, Xavier Bertrand, defended Dati and said he was “shocked” by the vehemence of the media response, which he called “harassment”. Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier, who – along with Dati – oversees the list of Paris region UMP candidates for the EU elections, said Dati was simply responding to the “convivial” atmosphere that presided at the convention.
The minister of justice was the subject of much media speculation also in 2008, when she announced that she was pregnant but declined to identify the father. She gave birth to a baby girl on January 2 this year.
Dati will make a last official trip to Lebanon next week but must resign from the ministry, in the weeks following, to be eligible as a candidate for the EU elections, scheduled for June 7.