Jean-Pierre Chevènement

Jean-Pierre Chevènement
Jean-Pierre Chevènement
Jean-Pierre Chevènement
Mayor of Belfort, 1983–1997, 2001–2007
Personal details
Born 9 March 1939 (1939-03-09) (age 72)
Belfort, France
Political party Citizen and Republican Movement

Jean-Pierre Chevènement (born 9 March 1939[1]) is a French politician. He was Minister of Defense from 1988 to 1991 and Minister of the Interior from 1997 to 2000. He was a presidential candidate in 2002 and since 2008 has been a member of the Senate.

The Chevènement family is of Swiss origin, with their original name, Schwennemann, having been gallicized to Chevènement. Chevènement was born in Belfort near the Swiss border, speaks German, and studied in Vienna.[2]

Chevènement's idiosyncratic left-wing nationalism has led to comparison with the late British politician Peter Shore[3], he describes this Eurosceptic and Gaullist position as "republican".[2] He has been Mayor of Belfort from 1983 to 2008 and was a Deputy in the National Assembly from 1973 to 2002.

Chevènement joined the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and founded the Center of Socialist Studies, Research and Education (Centre d'études, de recherche et d'éducation socialistes or CERES). The organization constituted the left wing of the party, and promoted the alliance with the Communist Party.

In 1969 the SFIO was superseded by the Socialist Party (Parti socialiste or PS). Two years later, CERES supported the takeover of the party by François Mitterrand. It took a major part in drawing up the socialist plan for the winning 1981 elections.

Chevènement was Minister of Research and Industry from 1981 to 1983, when he resigned, for the first of three times over his career, because he did not agree with the change in economic policy made by President Mitterrand in order to stay in the European Monetary System.[4] He has said that "a minister has to keep his mouth shut; if he wants to open it, he resigns".[5] However, he returned to the cabinet as Minister of National Education from 1984 to 1986.[6]

Appointed Minister of Defence in 1988, he served until 1991, when he resigned due to his opposition to the Gulf War.[4] After this he opposed the Maastricht Treaty, an issue on which Mitterrand and the PS led the "yes" campaign.[7] In 1993 he left the PS and founded a new political party: the Citizens' Movement (Mouvement des citoyens or MDC).

Chevènement and the MDC participated to the formation of the Plural Left coalition. When it won the 1997 legislative election he became Minister of the Interior, but he resigned for the third time in 2000 because of his opposition to giving increased autonomy to Corsica.[4]

On 2 September 1998, Chevènement underwent surgery to his gall bladder. He then had a severe allergic reaction to the anesthetic, causing him to lapse into a coma for 8 days.[8][9] He began to recover, leaving the hospital on 22 October, but he could not work in his ministry for another four months.[10] As a result of this episode he gained the nickname "the miracle of the republic".[4]

He was a candidate at the 2002 presidential election. He put himself forward as the leader of the "republicans" against what he called the "Chirac/Jospin duo". He created the Republican Pole, for more left wing nationalists.[11] He won 5% of the vote.[12] Many Socialists blamed Chevènement for being responsible for the elimination of Lionel Jospin in the first round of the presidential race.[13] Consequently, at the June 2002 legislative election, the PS invested a candidate against him in the Belfort constituency. In this, he was defeated by the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) candidate and lost his parliamentary seat.

Finally, the Republican Pole split and Chevènement created the Citizen and Republican Movement (Mouvement républicain et citoyen or MRC), which described itself as a left-wing party. He reconciled with the PS when, after raising the possibility of a new presidential candidacy, he renounced this to support Ségolène Royal's candidacy in the 2007 presidential election.[13] In spite of the PS support, he failed to retake his parliamentary seat at the 2007 legislative election. He announced that he would not stand as a candidate for another term as Mayor of Belfort.

In 2004 he established the Foundation "Res Publica", which aims to promote the 'republican model' (le modèle républicain) and to define a long-term political vision. Chevènement states, however, that Res Publica is not a political party.

In the Senate election held on 21 September 2008, Chevènement was elected as a Senator from the Territory of Belfort,[1] defeating his opponent, Socialist candidate Yves Ackerman.

Political career

Governmental functions

Minister of State Minister of Research and Technology : 1981–1982.

Minister of State, Minister of Industry Research : 1982–1983.

Minister of National Education : 1984–1986.

Minister of Defense : 1988–1991.

Minister of Interior : 1997–2000.

Electoral mandates

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Territoire de Belfort : 1973–1981 (Became minister in 1981) / 1986–1988 (Became minister in 1988) / 1991–1997 (Became minister in 1997) / 2000–2002. Elected in 1973, reelected in 1978, 1981, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000.

Senate of France

Senator of Territoire de Belfort : Since 2008.

Regional Council

President of the Regional Council of Franche-Comté : 1981–1982.

Regional councillor of Franche-Comté : 1974–1988 (Resignation). Elected in 1986.

Municipal Council

Mayor of Belfort : 1983–1997 (Resignation) / 2001–2007 (Resignation). Reelected in 1989, 1995, 2001.

1st deputy-mayor of Belfort : 1977–1983 / 1997–2001. Reelected in 1997.

Municipal councillor of Belfort : 1977–2008. Reelected in 1983, 1989, 1995, 2001.

Agglomeration community Council

President of the Agglomeration community of Belfort : 1977–2008. Reelected in 1983, 1989, 1995, 2001.

Member of the Agglomeration community of Belfort : 1977–2008. Reelected in 1983, 1989, 1995, 2001.

Political functions

President of the Citizen and Republican Movement : Since 2008.


  1. ^ a b List of Senators re-elected in 2008 (PDF file), Senate website (French).
  2. ^ a b Laughland, John (17 November 2001). "The conservative socialist". The Spectator (UK): p. 16. 
  3. ^ "The Financial Statement and Budget Report 1998-99". Hansard: Column 1342. 23 April 1998. 
  4. ^ a b c d Daley, Suzanne (14 April 2002). "Campaigning In France, An Old Hand Is a Wild Card". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Bishop, Patrick (19 June 2001). "Minister quits in Corsica protest". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 16 April 2000. 
  6. ^ Aplin, Richard; Montchamp, Joseph (1999). A Dictionary of Contemporary France. Taylor & Francis. p. 104. ISBN 1579581153. 
  7. ^ Bremner, Charles (1 September 1992). "Mitterrand `yes men' rally to the cause;French Referendum;Maastricht treaty". The Times (UK). 
  8. ^ "French Minister in coma". Birmingham Post. 4 September 1998. p. 9. 
  9. ^ "French minister out of coma". The Irish Times: p. 11. 11 September 1998. 
  10. ^ "People". The Irish Times: p. 9. 5 January 1999. 
  11. ^ Bremner, Charles (17 June 2002). "Left out in the cold after worst defeat in decades". The Times (UK): p. 14. 
  12. ^ "'The French no longer want socialism'". The Guardian (UK): p. 11. 27 April 2002. 
  13. ^ a b Wendlandt, Astrid (11 December 2006). "Royal gets boost as leftist rival quits French race". The Independent (UK): p. 19. 
Preceded by
Alain Savary
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
René Monory
Preceded by
André Giraud
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Pierre Joxe
Preceded by
Jean-Louis Debré
Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Daniel Vaillant

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