Obituary:Edouard Frdric-Dupont

Edouard Frdric-Dupont was an essential part of the Parisian political scenery. Those visitors who followed Anthony Eden's practice and judged public opinion by talking to taxi-drivers must have been surprised to discover that the Frdric-Dupont whom they had heard so lavishly praised was not President of the Republic nor a powerful minister. Dupont, a common name in France, was in his case often ennobled into Dupont des Loges, a reference to his popularity amongst the concierges, since in 1946 he was instrumental in passing a law that abolished the bell-pulls in their lodges and entrance halls - which had obliged them to open the door to any caller throughout the night. If Frdric-Dupont always had the support of these talkative classes, he also had the backing of those who owned a certain amount of property or who had made small investments.

He began his career as a local councillor in 1933, and was still mayor of the seventh arrondissement of Paris at the time of his death. He became a deputy in 1936, representing the extreme right at the time of the Popular Front. Both in Parisian and in national politics he represented the very heart of the capital.

In 1940 he voted full powers to Marshal Ptain and supported him. But in 1943 he resigned from the Council of Paris and protested against the Vichy government's shooting members of the Resistance. Shortly afterwards he himself joined the Resistance movement and was decorated for his services. But he was never a whole-hearted Gaullist, and he was once responsible for seriously upsetting the General's plans.

In 1966 de Gaulle had decided to drop Georges Pompidou as Prime Minister and to replace him by his foreign minister, Maurice Couve de Murville. He persuaded Couve to stand in the seventh arrondissement in the elections of 1967, calculating that an electoral victory would be an ideal prelude to his promotions. But this was to reckon without Frdric-Dupont, who was unbeatable. De Gaulle could not promote a man who had just been rejected by the electorate: Pompidou stayed, and it was he who faced the crisis of 1968.

Frdric-Dupont remained deputy, with some interruptions, from 1936 until his retirement in 1993. He was never at ease within a party, and frequently changed his allegiance, only from 1988 settling down as a supporter of Jacques Chirac.

His father was a general, he himself a skilful lawyer. People wondered if he did not want preferment and office, which, except for a ministerial appointment which lasted for 11 days in 1953, never came. But Frdric- Dupont preferred things as they were. A bachelor, he referred to his constituents as his children and he was always ready to receive them and to help them. And in his later years, he knew that he was becoming a legend. This too he found agreeable.

Douglas Johnson

Edouard Frdric-Dupont, politician, lawyer: born Paris 10 July 1902; died Paris 15 February 1995.

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