Cablegate: The Fillon Government, Sarkozy's Reform Team, Named

DE RUEHFR #2027/01 1381754
R 181754Z MAY 07





E.O. 12958: N/A



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1. (SBU) Intent on maintaining the momentum for reform,
President Sarkozy moved quickly following his inauguration
May 16 (ref B). Sarkozy named his administration's first
Prime Minster, Francois Fillon the following day, May 17,
then immediately named the line-up of the Fillon government
on May 18. The new government includes major figures from
the wing of Sarkozy's own Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)
party that opposed Sarkozy's nomination as the party's
presidential candidate, from the opposition Socialist Party
(PS) (Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner) and from the
centrist Union for French Democracy (UDF) party (Defense
Minister Herve Morin). The Fillon government ministerial team
is the fruit of Sarkozy's outreach efforts across the
political spectrum in the days immediately following his
election (ref A). Sarkozy -- very confident that the UMP
will keep its parliamentary majority following the upcoming
June 10 and 17 legislative elections -- may well be
accelerating his plans to implement reforms; the newly named
government is designed to reflect multi-partisan
responsibility for the upcoming reform effort, which will be
actively, personally directed by Sarkozy himself. END

2. (U) As expected, President Nicolas Sarkozy -- after
naming Francois Fillon on May 17 the Sarkozy administration's
first prime minister -- immediately also named the members of
the Fillon government. On May 18, Claude Gueant, the new
Secretary General of the Elysee Palace who served as

Sarkozy's campaign manager during the presidential race,
announced the composition of the new government (for list
names and bio info see paras 7 - 32 below). This government
is the result of 1) Sarkozy's early decision to name Fillon
PM (ref B), as all UMP electoral projections kept indicating
a very likely Sarkozy victory; and 2) Sarkozy's unexpected
outreach efforts across the political spectrum in the days
following his May 10 election victory (ref A).

3. (U) This government is "Sarkozy's reform team," with
Fillon in the role of executive officer. All indications are
that the UMP will keep its current majority in the National
Assembly in the upcoming June 10 and 17 legislative
elections. The composition of this government -- which
includes prominent members from the formerly anti-Sarkozy
faction of the UMP (Juppe and Alliot-Marie) and a member from
the opposition Socialist Party (PS) Kouchner) and one from
the centrist Union for French Democracy (UDF) party (Morin)--
is designed to add the "multi-partisan, unity government"
card to Sarkozy's already very strong hand (a mandate-giving
victory and a new parliamentary majority) for pursuing his
reform agenda. On the reform implementation front, all
indications are that Sarkozy plans to keep up the pace he as
set not only in naming his administration's first government
in record time, but also in naming a government that, in
effect, significantly restructures France's executive branch.

4. (SBU) As promised, the number of ministries has been
reduced to 15, driving a re-structuring of functions that
divides the large and un-agile mega-ministries of economy and
interior each into two "new" ministries. Sarkozy's
restructuring also includes the creation of a "super
ministry" of Ecology and Sustainable Development. It also
overtly moves foreign policy direction to the Elysee. The
economy ministry has been split into a pro-active Ministry of
Economy, Finance and Employment under former Social
Solidarity Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, and a more
accounting-oriented Ministry of Budget, Public Accounting and
Civil Service under UMP parliamentarian Eric Woerth. The

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core interior ministry security functions remain in an
Interior Ministry under former Defense Minister Michelle
Alliot-Marie, as immigration and naturalization matters move
to a new Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National
Identity and Co-development under Sarkozy's closest political
ally, Brice Hortefeux.

5. (U) Sarkozy's re-structuring includes the creation of a
Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Sustainable
Planning under former Prime Minster Alain Juppe. Juppe also
gets the title of Minister of State, which makes him number
two in the government after Prime Minister Fillon. With
regard to foreign affairs, Sarkozy has put policy direction
firmly under his personal control at the Elysee through a
far-reaching role for outgoing Ambassador to the U.S.
Jean-David Levitte, in a role similar to that of the U.S.
National Security Advisor. By naming Socialist Bernard
Kouchner (of Doctors Without Borders fame) as Foreign
Minster, Sarkozy has put an emphasis on humanitarian and
human rights matters in the mission of the Quai d'Orsay

6. (U) Also as promised, the new government observes gender
parity -- seven of the new ministers are women. They are
Michele Alliot-Marie (Minister of Interior, Overseas
Territories and Local Governments), Rachida Dati (Minister of
Justice), Valerie Pecresse (Minister of Higher Education and
Research), Roselyn Bachelot (Minister of Health, Youth and
Sports), Christine Boutin (Minister of Housing and Cities),
Christine Lagarde (Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries),
and Christine Albanel (Minister of Culture and Communication,
Government Spokeswoman). Incidentally, the three top
officials in this new French administration, President
Sarkozy, Prime Minister Fillon and Minister of State Juppe
are graduates of the U.S. Government's International Visitor
Program (IVP) (Sarkozy in 1985, Fillon in 1984 and Juppe in
1978). It is also noteworthy that the two top officials,
Sarkozy and Fillon, are not graduates of France's elite
school for top civil-servants, the National School of
Administration (ENA). There follow biographical sketches of
the new government's Prime Minister (Fillon), Foreign Minster
(Kouchner), Defense Minister (Morin) and the government's
number two (Juppe), who is Minister of Ecology, Sustainable
Development and Sustainable Planning, and thumbnail bios of
the other members of the new government.

Prime Minister ) Francois Fillon
7. (SBU) Francois Fillon, a former Gaullist with a keen
interest in social affairs and defense issues, was named
Prime Minister on May 17, 2007. Fillon broke ranks with
former President Chirac following the UMP's crushing
electoral defeats in the regional and European elections of
2004. Fillon blamed Chirac's slow pace of social reforms for
that electoral defeat, and has since vowed to move quickly to
implement President Sarkozy's reform agenda. Fillon is best
known for pushing through a controversial reform of the
national pension system in 2003 -- arguably the most
significant reform passed during Jacques Chirac's 12-year

8. (SBU) Fillon served in the Raffarin government as
Minister of Education from 2004-05, and as Minister of Social
Affairs, Labor, and Solidarity from 2002-04. Fillon is given
high marks for his handling of several politically sensitive
labor reform measures during the 2002-04 period, including a
de facto extension of the 35-hour workweek (by allowing
employees to work more overtime hours); simplifying and
raising the minimum wage; and passage of a controversial
pension reform bill. Several of Fillon's proposed reforms to
the education system, however, were watered down or withdrawn
in an (ultimately unsuccessful) effort to mollify public
opinion in advance of the vote on the EU Constitution.

9. (SBU) Fillon served as a National Assembly Deputy from
the Sarthe department (in western France) between 1981-93 and
1997-2002. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he was considered a
leading expert on defense-related issues and served as
chairman of the Assembly's Defense Committee during 1986-88.
He was among the few Gaullists to call for greater French

PARIS 00002027 003.2 OF 007

participation in NATO. Fillon also served as Minister for
Higher Education and Research during the government of
Edouard Balladur (1993-95), and as Deputy Minister for Posts,
Telecommunications, and Space during the government of Alain
Juppe (1995-97). Fillon's political career includes a
four-year stint (1998-2002) as President of the
Pays-de-la-Loire Regional Council in western France. He was
elected to the Senate in 2005 representing his native Sarthe

10. (SBU) Fillon understands English, but prefers to speak
French. He met his British-born wife, the former Penelope
Clarke from Wales, when she was an English instructor at the
university Fillon also attended in the Maine region of
France. The couple has five children. Fillon has made
several trips to the United States, including a tour as an IV
grantee in 1984.

Minister of Foreign and European
Affairs ) Bernard Kouchner
11. (SBU) In a surprise move, President Sarkozy has
appointed world renowned humanitarian Bernard Kouchner as
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. Kouchner's
appointment to lead the Quai d'Orsay represents the
fulfillment of a longtime dream for the celebrated champion
of humanitarian causes. Kouchner has made a career out of
drawing attention to international humanitarian issues. His
numerous efforts include projects in Somalia, Bosnia,
Northern Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh, Sudan, Ethiopia and Lebanon.
Considered a maverick among his Socialist Party colleagues,
Kouchner was one of the few politicians (left or right) to
openly support the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. An
experienced administrator, he has held three ministerial
portfolios in Socialist governments: as Junior-Minister for
Health (1997-98 and 2001-2002), as Minister of Health and
Humanitarian Affairs (1992-93), and as Secretary of State for
Humanitarian Affairs (1988-92). During 1994-97, Kouchner
served as a Member of the European Parliament. He officially
joined the Socialist Party in 1998.

12. (U) Appointed by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan,
Kouchner served as the UN's Special Representative in Kosovo
during 1999-2001. In this capacity he acted as a virtual
governor of the province during its occupation by a NATO-led
peacekeeping force. He had the power to levy taxes, write
new laws, and form a police force. Kouchner's appointment
represented a diplomatic victory for President Jacques
Chirac, who lobbied aggressively on Kouchner's behalf. Upon
conclusion of his mandate, Kouchner received international
praise for his competence, objectivity, and dedication. In
recent years Kouchner has unsuccessfully bid on two top IO
positions: UN High Commissioner on Refugees and head of the
World Health Organization.

13. (U) Kouchner has been active in aiding distressed
populations throughout the world since the late-1960s, when
he began working in Biafra and Chad. A gastroenterologist by
training, Kouchner left his Paris medical practice behind
and, in 1971, helped found &Medecins Sans Frontieres8
(Doctors Without Borders), an organization of volunteer
doctors dedicated to helping patients in disadvantaged
countries around the world. Following a rift with other
founding members, Kouchner set up Doctors of the World in

14. (SBU) Kouchner was born on November 1, 1939. Kouchner
has three children by a prior relationship. His longtime
companion, Christine Ockrent, hosts a news program on the
state-run TV network France 3. They have one child.
Kouchner speaks excellent English.

Minister of Defense ) Herve Morin
15. (SBU) Herve Morin has represented the rural, 3rd
district of the Eure department in the National Assembly
since 1988. He is a member of the centrist Union for French
Democracy (UDF) party. Morin has been the leader of the UDF
parliamentary group in the assembly since 2002, and was
widely seen as the leader of the UDF parliamentarians who

PARIS 00002027 004.2 OF 007

rallied to Sarkozy once UDF leader Francois Bayrou was
eliminated in the first round of the presidential race.
Morin has been a close Embassy contact. Friendly and direct,
he is unabashed about his affection for the U.S., often
referring to his Normandy roots and the grateful memories of
the Liberation that he calls "our heritage." The French
press characterizes Morin as among the most Atlanticist of
all deputies. A relative newcomer on the national political
stage, Morin worked as an administrator in the National
Assembly beginning in 1978, and thus cannot be considered a
neophyte in the Assembly's corridors of power. He was a
counselor for parliamentary relations to then-Minister of
Defense Francois Leotard (UDF) during 1993-95, and also
served as spokesman and project coordinator for Francois
Bayrou's 2002 presidential campaign.

16. (SBU) In relatively short order, Morin became a member of
Bayrou's inner circle, largely by remaining a UDF loyalist
while other party leaders were defecting to Chirac's camp in
the run-up to the 2002 presidential election. In Bayrou's
2007 presidential bid, Morin filled a range of roles in the
campaign: coordinator for special communication projects and
point man for refuting UMP charges made against UDF
proposals. Morin understands some English, but prefers to
speak French.

Minister of Ecology and Development ) Alain Juppe
--------------------------------------------- ----
17. (SBU) Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, once famously
described as "the best among us" by his mentor Jacques
Chirac, has returned to the national political stage to lead
a new "super ministry of ecology and economic development"
formally called the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable
Development and Planning. Juppe also gets the, largely
honorary, but coveted Minister of State title which places
him second (behind PM Fillon) in the government's official
protocol ranking. Juppe's high-profile appointment
underlines President Sarkozy's commitment to leading action
on global warming. In his May 6 victory address to the
nation, Sarkozy highlighted the need for the United States,
with France, to "take the lead" in the fight against climate

18. (SBU) Juppe's appointment to a senior government post
represents a political comeback for the man once seen as
Jacques Chirac's likeliest (and preferred) successor.
Juppe's conviction, in 2004, on charges relating illegally
paid for political party staffers severely damaged his
political career. Juppe was given a 14-month suspended
sentence and one-year of ineligibility from holding public
office. Juppe was forced to resign from both his seat in the
National Assembly and his local elective office as mayor of
Bordeaux. But more importantly, his resignation from the
presidency of the UMP opened the door for Nicolas Sarkozy to
take over. During 2005 Juppe taught a year-long seminar on
globalization at Quebec's National School of Administration.
During his stint in North America he became increasingly
interested in environmental advocacy and, by his own account,
was greatly influenced by the anti-global warming campaign
directed by former Vice-President Al Gore.

Minister of Economy, Finance and
Employment -- Jean Louis Borloo
19. (SBU) Jean-Louis Borloo has been tapped to lead the
newly revamped Ministry of Economy, Finance and Employment
which now includes enhanced powers over employment issues and
economic strategy. A political maverick with a populist
streak, Borloo previously served in the Raffarin and Villepin
governments as Minister for Employment, Labor and Social
Cohesion during 2004-07. He was also Junior Minister for
Towns and Urban Renewal from 2002-04. In recent months
Borloo has overseen development of Nicolas Sarkozy's
so-called "Marshall Plan for the Suburbs," which seeks to
revive employment and education prospects in immigrant
neighborhoods. Self-assured, frank and quick-to-action,
Borloo remains a highly popular figure among the general

Minister of Interior, Overseas Territories

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and Local Governments -- Michele Alliot-Marie
20. (SBU) Neo-Gaullist Michele Alliot-Marie has been named
to lead the Ministry of Interior, Overseas Territories and
Local Governments by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Often
referred to by her initials as "MAM" in the French press,
Alliot-Marie is one of the few holdovers from the Chirac
administration and was likely retained because of her strong
support during the campaign and, at least in part, because of
Sarkozy's desire to maintain gender parity in his new
administration. Alliot-Marie served ably as Minister of
Defense from 2002-07, becoming the first woman in French
history to hold that position. Known as a "hands-on"
minister, Alliot-Marie was well liked and respected by French
Armed Forces personnel. During her tenure she fought
successfully to prevent drastic cuts to the defense budget,
and made several visits to French troops stationed in
Afghanistan and Africa. Alliot-Marie also demonstrated a
sincere desire to maintain good U.S.-French
military-to-military relations, although she maintained a
problematic relationship with former Defense Minister Donald
Rumsfeld on such issues as European security (ESDP) and
coordinated European procurement (EDA).

Minister of Immigration, Integration, National
--------------------------------------------- -
Identity and Co-Development ) Brice Hortefeux
21. (SBU) Long-time Sarkozy ally Brice Hortefeux has been
appointed to lead the newly created Ministry of Immigration,
Integration, National Identity and Co-Development. During
the 2007 presidential campaign Sarkozy said that immigration
reform would be a top priority of his administration and that
he wanted to create a single agency in order to consolidate
the administration of immigration policy portfolio that was
spread out among three different ministries. Hortefeux is
one of Sarkozy's oldest friends and political allies. He
served as Junior Minister of Collective Territories in the
old Villepin government from 2005-07. He was also a member
of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2005. According to
the press, Hortefeux and Cecilia Sarkozy, the president's
highly influential wife, often clashed during the run-up to
the 2007 presidential election. Hortefeux has maintained
close ties with the Embassy over the years, although in
private he has been a harsh critic of President George W.
Bush's policy in Iraq.

Minister of Justice ) Rachida Dati
22. (SBU) Sarkozy protege Rachida Dati has been tapped to
serve as Minister of Justice ("Garde de Sceaux"). A lawyer
and former magistrate born to North African immigrants, Dati
joined Sarkozy at the Interior Ministry in 2002 as an advisor
on delinquency issues where she helped build up a network of
contacts and supporters among the immigrant community.
Impressed by her poise, intelligence and hard-driving work
ethic, Sarkozy later choose Dati to serve as a
co-spokesperson for his presidential campaign. Her political
experience began in 1995 when she joined the staff of the
Education Ministry. From 1997-99 she worked in the justice
ministry as an internal auditor, before being named a
magistrate at a criminal court in a town called Peronne. In
2001 she was named acting magistrate at the criminal court in
Evry, a suburb of Paris, where she specialized in financial
crime cases. Dati was born on November 27, 1965 in
Saint-Remy, France. Dati's Moroccan immigrant parents were
poor; hers is an up-from-poverty success story made possible
by hard work and free public education. She holds an
economic science degree from the Higher School of Business
(1993) and later took a masters in law (1996). She graduated
from the National School of Magistrates in 1997. Dati is
unmarried. Dati does not speak English.

Minister of Labor, Social Relations
and Solidarity ) Xavier Bertrand
23. (SBU) President Nicolas Sarkozy has named UMP rising
star Xavier Bertrand to lead the newly created Ministry of
Labor, Social Relations and Solidarity. A formidable

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debater, Bertrand served admirably as one of Sarkozy's
spokespersons during the 2007 presidential campaign. A
relative newcomer on the national political scene, Bertrand
served in the Raffarin government as State Secretary for
Social Security from April 2004 to June 2005. During this
period he was responsible for negotiating with union and
employer representatives regarding the reform of France's
nearly-bankrupt health insurance system. In recognition for
his successful efforts, Bertrand was then promoted to
Minister of Health and Solidarity when Dominique de Villepin
took over the reigns of government in 2005. He resigned for
the government on March 26, 2007 in order to devote himself
full-time to Sarkozy's presidential campaign.

24. (SBU) Bertrand is a hard-working detail-oriented
administrator. As Health Minister, Bertrand worked closely
with U.S. officials to develop plans to cope with the
emerging Bird Flu threat. In 2006 he requested assistance
from visiting U.S. officials to help contain the Chikungunya
epidemic on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Bertrand
later praised American contributions to the containment
effort, saying American assistance accelerated the
development and distribution of an effective vaccine.

Minister of Education ) Xavier Darcos
25. (SBU) UMP deputy Xavier Darcos has been named Minister
of Education. Darcos served as Junior Minister for
Cooperation, International Development and Francophone
Affairs from 2004-05, and as Junior Minister for Primary and
Secondary Education from 2002-04. A former senator from the
Dordogne region in southwestern France (1997-2002), Darcos
was not particularly close to former President Jacques Chirac
and hence was not kept on when the government of Dominique de
Villepin was formed in June 2005. He does not speak English.

Minister for Higher Education
and Research ) Valerie Pecresse
26. (SBU) UMP deputy Valerie Pecresse has been named
Minister for Higher Education and Research. Plucky and
combative, Pecresse has served as spokesperson for the UMP
political party since 2004 and regularly appears on TV and
radio political debate programs. She was elected to the
National Assembly representing Versailles-Chevreuse
(Yvelines) in June 2002, and was immediately appointed to the
National Assembly's law commission. Pecresse played a
prominent role in President Chirac's 2002 reelection
campaign, where she was in charge of dissecting the
opposition's positions and preparing rebuttals for candidate
Chirac. She has been a member of the UMP's political bureau
since 2004, but does not appear closely allied to Nicolas
Sarkozy. However, her omnipresent and effective performance
during the 2007 presidential campaign likely assured her a
spot in the Fillon government.

Minister of Health, Youth and Sports
) Roselyn Bachelot
27. (SBU) Roselyn Bachelot-Narquin has been named Minister
of Health, Youth and Sports. Bachelot served as Minister of
Ecology and Sustainable Development in the Raffarin
government from 2002-04. A long-time Chirac loyalist,
Bachelot served as the former president's spokeswoman during
his 2002 reelection bid. She was elected to a five-year term
in the European Parliament in June 2004. Bachelot served on
the European Parliament's commission investigating alleged
overflights of European territory by the CIA aircraft
transporting terrorist suspects. She has been a deputy
secretary general at the UMP political party since 2006.


Minister for Housing and Cities
) Christine Boutin
28. (SBU) Social conservative Christine Boutin has been
named Minister for Housing and Cities. Boutin as has served
in the National Assembly representing the 10th district in
the Yvelines department since 1986. Something of a political

PARIS 00002027 007.2 OF 007

maverick, she was first elected to the Assembly without the
endorsement of any party, but joined the center-right UMP in
2002. Boutin rose to national prominence for her opposition
to the 1999 &PACS8 legislation which provided a range for
civil union, tax benefit, inheritance and surviving partner
rights to gay and lesbian couples. After losing that battle,
Boutin ran for the presidency 2002, obtaining just over 1
percent of the first round vote.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
) Christine Lagarde
29. (SBU) Christine Lagarde has been named Minister of
Agriculture and Fisheries. Laggard's appointment follows on
her successful tenure in the Villepin government as Junior
Minister for Foreign Trade from 2005-07. Lagarde's
performance reportedly made a favorable impression on
then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who was determined to
keep her in his future administration. An accomplished
lawyer specializing in antitrust and labor law, Lagarde
formerly served as worldwide president at Baker and McKenzie
from 2004-05. During the prior five year period, she was
president of Baker and McKenzie's executive committee in

Minister of Culture and Communication,
Government Spokeswoman -- Christine Albanel
30. (SBU) Former Chirac collaborator and speechwriter
Christine Albanel has been named Minister of Culture and
Communication. She will also serve as the Fillon
government's official spokeswoman. Albanel served as
president of the Versailles Historical Site and Museum from
2003 until her ministerial appointment. A member the UMP's
predecessor, the Rally for the Republic (RPR) political
party, Albanel represented Paris on the Ile-de-France
Regional Council from 1986-1992 and again from 1998-2004.

Minister for Budget, Public Accounts
and Civil Service ) Eric Woerth
31. (SBU) UMP National Assembly member Eric Woerth has been
named Minister for Budget, Public Accounts and Civil Service.
Woerth represented the 4th district of the Oise department
in the National Assembly from 2002-04, before serving in the
Raffarin government as State Secretary for Reform of the
State from March 2004 to June 2005. He was reelected to his
old Assembly seat in a special by-election in that latter
year. At the local level, he has been Mayor of Chantilly
since 1995, and sat on the Picardie Regional Council during

Four State Secretaries and a High Commissioner
--------------------------------------------- -
32. (U) Five other posts in the new government were also
filled. Under the Prime Minister's office: Roger Karoutchi
will be State Secretary for Relations with the Parliament,
and Eric Besson will be State Secretary for Strategic
Planning and Assessment of Public Policies. Under the
Minister for Foreign and European Affairs: Jean-Pierre Jouyet
has been named State Secretary for European Affairs. While
under the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and
Planning: Dominique Bussereau is State Secretary for
Transportation. Finally, Martin Hirsch will serve as High
Commissioner for Pro-Active Solidarity Against Poverty.
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