Obituary: Michel Pericard

HE WAS born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye; he became mayor of Saint- Germain-en-Laye; he was elected deputy for the department of the Yvelines (where Saint-Germain-en-Laye is situated); he died in Saint-Germain-en- Laye.

When one describes the life of Michel Pericard in this way, then it would seem that one is describing the life of a typical French politician. Edouard Herriot, the legendary mayor of Lyons, used to say that in the communes and municipalities one saw the real France, the France that was united. It was only on the national level that France was a divided country.

But Pericard was more than this. Born in 1929, he was a student at the Sorbonne in the post-liberation period and a leader of the student movement. His sympathies were with General de Gaulle and the rally of the French people he had launched in 1947. Pericard chose the radio as his career, and from 1954 was a newsreader and a leader of discussions on the news. In 1957 he transferred to television, where he presented the news and took part in a leading news programme, 5 Colonnes a la Vue.

After 1958, de Gaulle had returned to power. This was the time when, with a majority of newspapers being critical, he was asked what he could do to get public opinion on his side. His reply was simple. He would take a microphone and he would speak. Television seemed to be at his disposal and it was not surprising that one of the most prominent presenters should be a declared Gaullist.

Pericard was elected municipal councillor at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1959. But the call of politics became too strong. Pericard took leave of absence from the Office of Radio and Television to advise ministers more directly. The first was Francois Missoffe, a daring young man who used to comment sotto voce during cabinet meetings. But Missoffe's career suffered from his encounter with a bold young student named Daniel Cohn- Bendit in 1968.

In that year of student revolt Pericard gave much-needed advice to the Minister of Information, Yves Guena, and later to the Minister of Agriculture, Bernard Pons. But, with de Gaulle's resignation in 1969, Pericard returned to television, as director of the second channel. It was then that he became a widely accepted target for left-wing hostility. In September 1970 Jacques Chaban-Delmas, then Prime Minister, deliberately took the opportunity of standing in a by-election in Bordeaux, in order to test public opinion. His opponent was Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber. Speaking in a special studio in the offices of the Bordeaux newspaper Sud-Ouest, Pericard announced the first post-voting poll which gave Chaban 60 per cent of the votes. He did this triumphantly. In later elections, he more than once let slip the phrase "We have won another victory" when speaking of a Gaullist success.

At the same time he was gaining another reputation, that of an ecologist. He had known Robert Poujade as a fellow-Gaullist student, and when Poujade became the Minister for the Environment (a new post), the idea grew of having a television programme devoted to environmental problems. Thus from 1971 Pericard was responsible for La France Defiguree which, for the first time, showed the ways in which the countryside and the towns in France were being disfigured. This was a highly successful programme. But it was also delicate, because Pericard was effectively attacking politicians when he was hoping to join them. In 1971 he had attempted to be elected mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and was defeated. In 1975 he was made Director of News at Radio-France; but he resigned. He was elected mayor of Saint-Germain in 1977 and in 1978 deputy for the Yvelines for the first time. He was to occupy both posts until his death.

The Gaullists had to wait a long time for victory. Pericard found himself increasingly a follower of Jacques Chirac. He became the leader of the Gaullists in the Assembly and brought together in a process of reconciliation those Gaullists who had disagreements with Alain Juppe, the new Prime Minister. After Chirac's disastrous dissolution of the Assembly in 1997, Pericard was even more in demand as a conciliator. As Vice-President of the Assembly he was an important member of the group presided over by Bernard Pons, Les Amis de Jacques Chirac.

Pericard had also renewed relations with broadcasting by his successful opposition to the Socialist proposal to bring together four of the existing television channels into one, which he called "the new monster".

Douglas Johnson

Michel Pericard, journalist and politician: born Saint-Germain-en- Laye, France 15 September 1929; married Catherine Cochet; died Saint- Germain-en-Laye 2 February 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?