||This article contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. (June 2010)|
|Dominique de Villepin|
|Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin on 19 June 2010 at the launching of his new party Republique Solidaire|
|Prime Minister of France|
31 May 2005 – 17 May 2007
|Preceded by||Jean-Pierre Raffarin|
|Succeeded by||François Fillon|
|Minister of the Interior|
31 March 2004 – 31 May 2005
|Prime Minister||Jean-Pierre Raffarin|
|Preceded by||Nicolas Sarkozy|
|Succeeded by||Nicolas Sarkozy|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
7 May 2002 – 31 March 2004
|Prime Minister||Jean-Pierre Raffarin|
|Preceded by||Hubert Védrine|
|Succeeded by||Michel Barnier|
|Born||Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin
14 November 1953
Rabat, French Morocco
|Political party||République Solidaire|
|Rally for the Republic (prior to 2002)
|Spouse(s)||Marie-Laure de Villepin|
|Relations||Xavier de Villepin (father)|
|Children||Marie de Villepin
Arthur de Villepin
Victoire de Villepin
|Alma mater||IEP de Paris
École nationale d'administration
Université Paris X Nanterre
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Politics and government of
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin French pronunciation: [dɔminik də vilpɛ̃] ( listen) (born 14 November 1953) is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007.
A career diplomat, Villepin rose through the ranks of the French right as one of Jacques Chirac's protégés. He came into the international spotlight as Foreign Minister with his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq which culminated with a speech to the UN (French address on Iraq at the UN Security Council).
Villepin was indicted in connection with the Clearstream affair, but was subsequently cleared of charges of complicity in allowing false accusations to proceed against presidential rival Nicolas Sarkozy regarding bribes paid on a sale of warships to Taiwan. Villepin has enjoyed a modest return to public favour for his public critique of President Sarkozy's style of "imperial rule."
He has written poetry, a book about poetry, and several historical and political essays, along with a study of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Villepin is an Honorary Member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
He has been one of the most vocal right-wing opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy, and on 8 September announced his candidature for President of France in 2012. On 25 March 2010, he announced that he would form a new center-right political movement in order to offer an alternative to Sarkozy in the 2012 election. However, Villepin failed to secure sufficient support to allow his candidacy to proceed .
Villepin was born in Rabat, Morocco and spent some time in Venezuela, where his family lived for four years. He graduated from the Lycée Français de New York in 1971. He has three children: Marie (b. 1986), Arthur, and Victoire (b. 1989).
Villepin's family derives from the middle class (the family was never aristocratic, and was responsible for adding the particle "de" to their own name). His great-grandfather was a colonel in the French army, his grandfather was a board member for several companies, and his father Xavier de Villepin, now retired, was a diplomat and a member of the Senate. Villepin speaks French, English and Spanish.
Villepin studied at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po) and went on to the École nationale d'administration (ENA), France's highly selective post-graduate school which trains its top civil servants. Villepin also holds degrees in Civil law and French literature from the universities of Pantheon-Assas and Paris X Nanterre. At the end of his studies he completed his military service as a naval officer on board the Aircraft Carrier Clemenceau, Villepin then entered a career in diplomacy. His assignments were:
Villepin was introduced to Jacques Chirac in the early 1980s and became one of his advisers on foreign policy. In 1993 he became chief of staff (directeur de cabinet) of Alain Juppé, the Foreign Minister in Édouard Balladur's cabinet, who was Chirac's political heir apparent.
Villepin then became director of Chirac's successful 1995 presidential campaign and was rewarded with the key job of Secretary-General of the Élysée Palace during Chirac's first term as President of the Republic (1995–2002). He advised the president to hold an early general election in 1997, while the French National Assembly was overwhelmingly dominated by the president's party. This was a risky gamble, and Chirac's party went on to lose the elections. Villepin offered Chirac his resignation afterwards, but it was turned down. Villepin's flawed advice on the election increased the perception among many politicians on the right that Villepin had no experience or understanding of grassroots politics, and owed his enviable position only to being Chirac's protégé.
Villepin has had an uneasy relationship with the members of his own political side. He has in the past made a number of demeaning remarks on members of parliament from his own party. In addition, the mutual distaste between Villepin and Nicolas Sarkozy, head of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) majority party, is well-known.
He was appointed Foreign Minister by Chirac in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin at the beginning of Chirac's second term in 2002.
Villepin's most famous assignment as Chirac's Foreign Minister was opposing the U.S. plan to invade Iraq, giving France a leading role in the grouping of countries such as Germany, Belgium, Russia and China that opposed the invasion. The speech he gave to the UN to block a second resolution allowing the use of force against Saddam Hussein's regime received loud applause.
During mid-2003 Villepin organized the Opération 14 juillet that attempted to rescue his former student, Ingrid Betancourt, who was being held by FARC rebels in Colombia. The operation failed, and because he had neither informed Colombia, Brazil, nor President Chirac of the mission, it resulted in a political scandal.
His actions against radical Islam included mandatory courses for Muslim clerics, notably in the French language (a third of them may not be fluent in the national language), in moderate Muslim theology and in French secularism: laïcité, Republican principles and the law. While Sarkozy created the French Council of the Muslim Faith, an official body which is now dominated by Orthodoxes, Villepin would have preferred a "Muslim foundation", in which mosque-based representatives would be balanced by secular Muslims.
He also cracked down on radical Muslim clerics, causing an uproar when he tried to expel Abdelkader Bouziane, an imam alleged to have said to the press that, according to Ancient Islamic texts, adulterous people could be whipped or stoned. When the decision to expel him was overturned by the courts, because of the journalistic reporting of LyonMag was deemed biaised, Villepin pushed a change of the law through Parliament, and Bouziane was sent home.
President Chirac was at one point thought to have turned his eye on Villepin as a possible successor, assuming that he himself would not enter the 2007 presidential contest. However, Nicolas Sarkozy was chosen to represent the centre-right UMP party.
On 29 May 2005, French voters in the referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe turned down the proposed document by a wide margin. Two days later, Raffarin resigned and Chirac appointed Villepin as Prime Minister.
On Thursday, 16 March 2006, tens of thousands of French university and school students marched to demand the government scrap a contentious youth jobs clause, known as First Employment Contract (CPE). The law, intended as a response to the 2005 riots, was intended to stimulate job growth and arrest the 23% youth unemployment rate by allowing employers to fire employees aged under 26 within the first two years of their employment for any or no reason. Supporters of the law argued that such probationary arrangements are not unusual in Western countries and that the current system in France discourages employers from hiring people whom they may be unable to fire if they prove unsuitable for the job. Critics argue that it discriminates unnecessarily against the young and decreases job security. The union movement issued an ultimatum to Villepin to scrap the law by 20 March or face a general strike. This ultimatum expired without concession. A general strike was called for 28 March.
On 28 March, between one and three million people demonstrated across France. The protests were accompanied by some violence and 800 people were arrested, 500 of them in Paris. Prime Minister Villepin refused to withdraw the CPE but called for negotiations on adapting it. The demonstrators for the most part called for the complete withdrawal of the CPE.
The CPE was withdrawn by Jacques Chirac on 10 April.
On 20 June 2006, during the questions to government in the National Assembly, Dominique de Villepin accused head of the Socialist Party François Hollande of cowardice. Hollande had questioned the Prime Minister about the recent "insider trading" scandal involving the aerospace company EADS and executive Noël Forgeard. This triggered an incident in the Assembly, with Socialist deputies converging on the government benches until they were stopped by the Assembly ushers. Hollande demanded apologies and the resignation of the Prime Minister; the next day, Dominique de Villepin apologized. This event resulted in criticism even from Villepin's own UMP party, with UMP parliamentarians including Assembly vice-president Yves Bur suggesting that president Chirac should appoint another Prime Minister.
In 2004, French judges were given a list by an anonymous source containing the names of politicians and others who, it was alleged, had deposited kickbacks from a 1991 arms sale to Taiwan into secret accounts at Clearstream, a private bank in Luxembourg. The most prominent name on the list was that of Nicolas Sarkozy, Villepin's rival for power in the UMP. The list was later shown to be fraudulent, a discovery Villepin kept from the public for 15 months at a time when the two men were vying for party supremacy. Meanwhile, the source of the list was later revealed to be a longtime associate of Villepin's, one Jean-Louis Gergorin, an executive at EADS. Critics claimed that Villepin, perhaps with the support of then-president Jacques Chirac, had tried to defame his rival. Sarkozy, in turn, filed a suit against whoever was behind the creation of the Clearstream list. An investigation continues.
There was speculation that Villepin might be a candidate in the 2007 Presidential election; however, interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy was selected unopposed as the UMP's presidential candidate on 14 January 2007. On 12 March 2007 Villepin formally endorsed Sarkozy for President.
In an address to the nation, Chirac had declared that the new cabinet's top priority would be to curb unemployment, which was consistently hovering above 10%, calling for a "national mobilization" to that effect.
Villepin's cabinet was marked by its small membership (for France), and its hierarchical unity: all members had the rank of Minister, and there were no Secretaries of State, the lowest cabinet member rank. The aim of this decision was for the cabinet to form a close-knit and more efficient team to combat unemployment.
The economy was growing sluggishly and a significant drop in unemployment was yet to be seen. Villepin's aim was therefore to restore the French people's trust in their government, an achievement for which he publicly set himself a deadline of a hundred days from the appointment of cabinet.
Another issue was the European Constitution, rejected by France and the Netherlands in referenda.
Some had speculated that Villepin, with his diplomatic experience and the prestige associated with the job of Prime Minister, would negotiate a new treaty with the European Union, while Sarkozy would run the country at home. However, Villepin obtained favorable reviews from the press and temporarily increased popularity in polls. In particular, he was increasingly cited as a possible presidential candidate for 2007, although Nicolas Sarkozy had publicly stated that he himself was giving considerable attention to that election. Villepin and Sarkozy initially avoided any open division.
Villepin declared that lowering unemployment was the number one objective of his government (which had also been stated by other prime ministers before him, albeit to no avail). He, as well as the UMP party, believed that France's workforce rules were too rigid and discouraged employment, and that some liberalizing reforms were necessary in order to "correct" the French social model.
On 2 August 2005 he issued ordinances establishing a new kind of work contract (called CNE) for small enterprises, with fewer guarantees than ordinary contracts. While Villepin's measures would surely have been approved by his wide UMP majority in Parliament. Villepin said the government needed to act fast, especially when Parliament was going on its summer recess.
On 16 January 2006 he announced a similar kind of work contract (called Contrat première embauche, or CPE) for young people (under 26). The parliament approved on 8 February. Subsequently students started to protest. This wave of protest eventually forced the government to give in. Although the law on the CPE is formally still valid, the government promised to hinder its application and initiated a new legal initiative which will abolish the key points of the CPE. During the protests, Villepin was widely perceived as stubborn and arrogant. As a consequence, his popularity rates went down rapidly and he was no longer regarded as a serious contender for the 2007 presidential election.
Another major issue in Villepin's government was the state of the national budget. France runs high deficits, which run afoul of the rules set in the EU Maastricht Treaty. Villepin's margin of maneuver in that respect was extremely slim.
26 March 2007
5 April 2007
On 15 May 2007, the last full day of President Jacques Chirac's term, Villepin tendered his resignation from the office of Prime Minister and it was accepted by the President. He was replaced two days later by François Fillon.
Villepin has never held elected office; the French Constitution allows the president to appoint unelected ministers. This is a political liability for him, because he is periodically accused of being out of touch with the realities of ordinary citizens. He is also reported to despise elected officials, calling members of Parliament connards (an insult). Villepin is not the first "unelected" prime minister, even in the relatively short history of the Fifth Republic: notable predecessors include Georges Pompidou, who was a banker before being called to office, and Raymond Barre, who had a previous career as a professor and appointed official, and started an elected career only after being Prime minister.
On the first day of the civil trial for his part in the Clearstream Affair, Villepin accused Pres. Sarkozy of pursuing him for political reasons. Sarkozy has the status of a civil plaintiff in the case.
On Thursday, 28 January 2010 the judgement was finally handed down and Villepin was acquitted of every accusation against him in the affair. The following morning the prosecution announced that it would file an appeal against this verdict, thus further dragging out the affair another year. Villepin was finally cleared by an Appeals Court in September 2011.
In 2011, Villepin quit the UMP and set up a new party, République Solidaire with the aim of running for president in the 2012 elections. However, he failed to secure the necessary endorsements from elected officials, and his candidacy did not proceed .
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