Robot man or just a doting dad? Will the real Alain Juppe stand up?
Saturday 21 December 1996
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.
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Yazidi sex slaves undergoing surgery to 'restore virginity' after being raped by Isis militants
General Election 2015: Tories sack candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
£65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: You will need to be able to follow instr...
£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global wholesaler and reta...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This organization is one of the founding names...