Robot man or just a doting dad? Will the real Alain Juppe stand up?

The most hated man in France? The most unpopular prime minister since Edith Cresson? A lean and hungry politician of such cold efficiency as to merit the nickname "the walking computer"?

Not a bit of it. Alain Juppe, who has headed the French government for the past 18 months, is a sensitive soul who can sit happily for hours on the nursery floor with his baby daughter Clara in his arms, in the company of a large furry elephant and a menagerie of soft toys.

He is "a husband passionately in love" (with his wife); who enjoys nothing better than eating, drinking and travel and regrets only that he has so little time for reading and perhaps a little writing. He dreams of 1998, when, with the Gaullists victorious in the parliamentary elections, he can holiday in Ireland for a spot of fishing or, on reflection, in the Greek islands that have been his paradise since his youth.

This is Alain Juppe - the Relaunch, as brought to disgruntled voters this Christmas courtesy of the magazine Paris-Match, the publisher, Nil, and of course Mr Juppe, who, it appears, has finally understood that he has a communication problem.

From remote, compulsive technocrat, he has turned himself into a shy but blissfully happy family man whose single purpose as prime minister is to improve life for the French, and especially the next generation.

The seven-page Paris-Match feature, which appeared yesterday, shows Mr Juppe in many unaccustomed guises. As well as in the nursery, photographs depict him en famille beside the Christmas tree, in his office with Clara (one hand in his daughter's, one on his papers and pens), and depositing a kiss on his wife's hand during the soup course at a Bordeaux restaurant.

In the accompanying interview, he (and Paris-Match) go out of their way to present him as the opposite of his public image.

Heartless technocrat from the elite? "I was very unhappy at ENA [the elite school for administrators] ... I came from a very modest background." A computer brain?

He had a teacher who kept telling him how intelligent he was but he veered towards the arts and classics, not to maths and science, and was no good at philosophy.

Arrogant and thoughtless? Well, maybe, but only by mistake. He admits that describing the giant state firm Thomson as worth "only one franc" and the civil service as having "plenty of fat on it" were damaging public- relations gaffes.

But, in a passage of vintage Juppe, he also asks whether "communication skills" would solve everything.

"When you have to do something unpleasant and difficult, you can apply as many communications skills as you want, but people will still find it difficult to accept. It's far harder to accept a rise in VAT than a fall, however well you communicate it." The previous day, the Nil publishing house, a reliable establishment recommended, Mr Juppe says, by his friend, President Jacques Chirac, released his slim volume of intimate self-justification, Between Ourselves. It is in a similar vein to the Paris-Match interview, but with considerably more politics.

The dedication, for instance, is not, as might have been expected from the Paris-Match performance, to his wife and daughter, nor yet to the next generation of France, but to "each of his ministers" for the "quality and strength of their commitment at my side". The message is: "Anyone who says the team is weak and divided and I'm not a team player could not be further from the truth."

Paradoxically, Juppe Mark II appears just as the French seemed to have grudgingly reconciled themselves to Juppe Mark I. Mr Chirac has twice recently given his prime minister his support, the worst of the year's industrial unrest seems to be over, and Mr Juppe's poll ratings had finally edged up a fraction.

Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Extras
indybest

Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition