Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, this morning reached the summit of a glamorous and high profile political career in which he has never faced an election.
Yeah, minus several hundred for the never-being-elected thing.
But as an elegant technocrat, a biographer of Napoleon and a politician who has risen to the highest ranks of government without the legitimacy of the ballot box, M de Villepin is a creature of the political establishment that was humbled by Sunday’s referendum result.
By all means, promote him, then.
He was promoted from his post as Minister of the Interior this morning, but he is best known for his work as the French Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2004. During a speech to the United Nations in February 2003, delegates broke protocol to applaud his opposition to American plans to invade Iraq: “In this temple of the United Nations, we are the guardians of an ideal, the guardians of conscience,” he told the Security Council.
The guardians of conscience, eh? Boy if that’s what the ‘guards’ in the Congo think they’re guarding, then, wow. That’s quite an ideal. “Have your way with 9-year-old peasant girls! Don’t worry, it’s conscientious! An ideal life! That French guy said so!”
Ambitious and intellectual – he is said to be nicknamed “Nero” by Bernadette Chirac, France’s first lady – M. Villepin became Minister of the Interior in 2004 with the brief of tackling radical Islam in France. He has spent the last year unveiling tough measures, including the creation of a new immigration police force, and insisting that the country’s imams learn French. It was under his watch that the controversial law banning Muslim headscarves in France’s schools came into force in September last year.
Well, we’ll see how it goes. At least he’s got great hair.