Bayrou wants to scrap elite administration school

2nd April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 2, 2007 (AFP) - Centrist presidential candidate Francois Bayrou has taken a carefully aimed swipe at France's governing establishment, calling for the abolition of the elite training college, the National Administration School (ENA).

PARIS, April 2, 2007 (AFP) - Centrist presidential candidate Francois Bayrou has taken a carefully aimed swipe at France's governing establishment, calling for the abolition of the elite training college, the National Administration School (ENA).

On a visit Sunday to the French Caribbean island of Martinique, Bayrou -- head of the Union for French Democracy (UDF) -- said the election campaign had revealed "a deep rift between authority and the citizens."

"So I have decided to propose a profound reform of the state, beginning with the abolition of the National Administration School and its replacement by a very high level school, a school of public services," he said.

Founded in 1945 and now based in the eastern city of Strasbourg, ENA produces just 100 graduates a year, destined for the higher reaches of the civil service. Many end up in politics and "enarques" -- as they are called -- have dominated France's post-war governments.

Well-known graduates of ENA include President Jacques Chirac and ex-president Valery Giscard-D'Estaing; Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and his predecessors Lionel Jospin, Edouard Balladur, Alain Juppe and Laurent Fabius; as well as Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal.

ENA is regularly accused of producing a class of brilliant but stereotyped technocrats, incapable of responding to the needs of a changing world, and attacks on the school are assured of a good response among the public.

Right-wing presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy -- who like Bayrou is not an "enarque" -- accused his rival of empty populism.

"What an unusual idea," he told a news conference. "He suggests abolishing ENA and replacing it with another school which would do exactly the same thing in the same conditions. All it would have is a different name."

Far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen accused Bayrou of stealing his ideas.

"We've been calling for the abolition of ENA for years. By producing identikit civil servants in a single school, you end up with a kind of aristocracy -- which is just how they see themselves," Le Pen said.

Polls show Bayrou, 55, in third place in the April 22 first round of voting, behind rightwing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and Royal.

Bayrou surged in the polls last month after building his campaign around the theme of opposition to the left-right ruling establishment.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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