Juppe back in government after judicial disgrace

18th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - Alain Juppe, who was Friday named number two in the French government at the head of a superministry for the environment, is a close ally of ex-president Jacques Chirac who had to leave politics for several years after being convicted in a party finance scandal.

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - Alain Juppe, who was Friday named number two in the French government at the head of a superministry for the environment, is a close ally of ex-president Jacques Chirac who had to leave politics for several years after being convicted in a party finance scandal.

Once described by Chirac as "the best from among us," the 61-year-old was prime minister from 1995 to 1997 when he tried to introduce economic reforms but was forced to back down after mass street protests.

Criticised at the time for being a rigid technocrat, he led the centre-right to defeat in parliamentary elections and was replaced by the Socialist Lionel Jospin.

Born to a modest family in southwest France, Juppe was a gifted student who won a nationwide first prize for Greek and Latin. He attended the elite National Administration School (ENA) and joined Chirac's office when he was prime minister in the mid-1970s.

Juppe then became a senior figure in Chirac's Rally for the Republic (RPR) party as well as finance director at the Paris City Hall, where Chirac was mayor from 1977 to 1995.

He was foreign minister from 1993 to 1995, when he oversaw French involvement in the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

After his departure from government in 1997 he played a key role in setting up the RPR's successor party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), of which he was the first president.

But in 2004 he was convicted of using his earlier position at Paris City Hall to raise illegal funds for the RPR. On appeal his sentence was reduced to a 14-month suspended jail term and a year's ineligibility from public office.

Resigning his elected positions as parliamentary deputy and mayor of Bordeaux, he handed over leadership of the UMP to Nicolas Sarkozy, who used the party as his springboard for the presidency.

After more than a year teaching in Canada, Juppe returned to politics last year and was re-elected mayor of Bordeaux. He has also spoken of running again for the National Assembly at next month's parliamentary elections.

Once seen as Chirac's heir at the head of the French right, Juppe suffered from a public image -- unfair in the view of friends -- that he was a brilliant but cold intellectual.

He has yielded his preeminent position to Sarkozy with good grace, praising his "taste for action, his formidable dynamism, his gift for organisation, his will to unite."


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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