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François Bayrou

Assumed office 
30 November 2007
Preceded by None - Party created

In office
25 February 1998 – 30 November 2007
Preceded by François Léotard
Succeeded by None - Party merged within the Democratic Movement

In office
29 March 1993 – 4 June 1997
Prime Minister Édouard Balladur and Alain Juppé
Preceded by Jack Lang
Succeeded by Claude Allègre

Born 25 May 1951 (1951-05-25) (age 58)
Bordères, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Political party MoDem
Occupation Politician
Religion Roman Catholic

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François Bayrou (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃swa bajʁu]; Occitan Francés Vairon, pronounced [franˈses bajˈru]) is a French centrist politician, president of Union for French Democracy (UDF) since 1998 and was a candidate in the 2002 and 2007 French presidential elections. In the first round, he received 18.6% of the vote, finishing in 3rd place and therefore was eliminated from the race. (Only the top two candidates participated in the runoff election, which was held on 6 May).[1] A former Member of the European Parliament, he also served as Minister of National Education in the conservative governments of Édouard Balladur and Alain Juppé, from 1993 to 1997. On Wednesday 25 April 2007, he held a press conference to announce that he would not endorse either of the candidates in the run-off. He then transformed the UDF into a new political party called the Democratic Movement, which has become widely known in France as the "MoDem".[2]


Early life

François Bayrou was born on 25 May 1951, in Bordères, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, a village located between Pau and Lourdes. He is the eldest son of farmers Calixte Bayrou and Emma Sarthou. He first went to secondary school in Pay, then he transferred to Bordeaux.

François Bayrou has six children from his first and only marriage (his wife Élisabeth "Babette" was 19 years old at the time of marriage). As of early 2007, the family still lives on the farm in Bayrou's birthplace. Bayrou studied literature at university, and at the age of 23, sat the "agrégation", the highest qualifying level for teachers in senior high schools and universities in France. His father was killed in a tractor accident at that time.

Prior to embarking on his political career, Bayrou taught history in Béarn in the French Pyrenees. [3] He is the author of over a dozen books on politics and history [1], including one on King Henry IV of France. François Bayrou's hobby is raising horses. A practising Roman Catholic, he is a fervent supporter of France's system of laïcité.

Political career

In 2002 François Bayrou rejected the call to merge the UDF party that he presided into a new entity with the Rally for the Republic (RPR) that would subsequently be named the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). As a consequence, many members of the UDF left for the UMP, while the remainder stayed with Bayrou inside the UDF.

However, until the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, UMP governments under Prime Ministers Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique de Villepin had always included one UDF minister, Gilles de Robien, an opponent of Bayrou.

François Bayrou has been increasingly critical of the course taken by the UMP-led government, which he deems to be out of touch with the average Frenchman. He denounces the de facto two-party system, in which the Socialist Party and the RPR (later UMP) have alternated. When in the majority the parliamentarians of both of these parties vote, nearly without question, for the laws proposed by the executive. Instead François Bayrou advocates a system where other voices can be heard. [2]

This position, though popular with UDF (now Modem) party activists, was not necessarily well received by other UDF politicians before 2007. For instance, the last UDF minister, Gilles de Robien, favored closer alignment with the UMP. [3] [4]

On 16 May 2006, François Bayrou voted for a motion of no confidence sponsored by Socialist deputies calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's government following the Clearstream affair. [5] (As de Villepin's UMP had an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the motion failed.) Following Bayrou's support for this measure, France's television authority classified him as a member of the parliamentary opposition for timing purposes; however, after Bayrou protested, he was classified as a member of neither the majority nor the opposition.

In 2007, Bayrou contested the presidency once again. The possibility of a Bayrou presidency took the French establishment by surprise. It had been expecting the battle to be fought primarily between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal of the Parti Socialiste, both very personable and media-friendly. The rise of Bayrou's poll numbers in February, however, complicated this "Sarko-Ségo" scenario, and raised the distinct possibility that the Parti Socialiste candidate would be excluded from the second round for a second straight election cycle, following the humiliating defeat of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 2002 at the hands of right wing nationalist Jean Marie Le Pen. Ultimately, Bayrou was unsuccessful in his attempt to make it into the second round of the election, but he won 18.57% of the vote (6,820,119 votes) and came in a clear third behind the front-runners Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP party and Royal of the Parti Socialiste. This was the best performance by the UDF in a Presidential election since 1981. Following the first round, Bayrou declared that he could not endorse either Sarkozy or Royal in the second round, although he did indicate that Sarkozy was the worst of the two choices on offer.

Following his loss, Bayrou announced his intention of forming a new centrist party, the Democratic Movement (MoDem). Only a handful of UDF politicians followed Bayrou; the majority opposed him and set up a rival party the New Centre party which pledged to support the alliance with the UMP. Most of the UDF's grassroots membership however, have remained with Bayrou. The MoDem was formed only weeks before the June 2007 French legislative elections, which followed the presidential election, but managed to capture 7.6% of the vote (the third highest). Despite this satisfactory result, which was higher than the UDF share of the poll of 4.9% in the 2002 elections, Bayrou's party managed to win only four seats, one of which was Bayrou's own seat. This was largely due to the French two-round electoral system which favors the two largest parties. The other parliamentarians elected on the party's list were Jean Lasalle, Thierry Benoit (who since then has left the party, to join the New Centre) and Abdoulatifou Aly. The creation of the MoDem, led to the formal dismantling of the UDF alliance, on 30 November.


Political career

Governmental functions

Minister of National Education : 1993-1995.

Minister of National Education, Higher education and Research : 1995-1997.

Electoral mandates

European Parliament

Member of European Parliament : 1999-2002 (Reelected member in the National Assembly of France in 2002)

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Pyrénées-Atlantiques : 1986-1993 (Became minister in 1993) / 1997-1999 (Became member of European Parliament in 1999) / Since 2002. Elected in 1986, reelected in 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007.

General Council

President of the General Council of Pyrénées-Atlantiques : 1992-2001. Reelected in 1994, 1998.

General councillor of Pyrénées-Atlantiques : 1982-2008. Reelected in 1988, 1994, 2001.

Municipal Council

Municipal councillor of Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques : 1983-1993 (Resignation) / Since 2008.

Political functions

President of the Union for French Democracy : 1998-2007.

President of the Democratic Movement (France) : Since 2007.

Political views

François Bayrou has taken a strong stand on a variety of issues, including efforts to safeguard the credibility of the political process, personal freedom, and free software (see DADVSI). As French Presidential candidate he has described the EU as “the most beautiful construction of all humanity” (WSJ, 23 February 2007). He declared himself in favor of France taking a greater role in the European Union's affairs. He supports the ratification of a European Constitution in a more concise and readable form than the one voted down by the French electorate in 2005.[5]

Bayrou was recently profiled in the New York Times.[6] In that article he described himself, saying: "I am a democrat, I am a Clintonian, I am a man of the 'third way'." He positioned himself as a centrist, although he has historic ties to the right, which Royal and the left have tried to emphasize. His platform promotes job creation, improvement of educational standards, improved conditions in the troubled suburbs, reduced government spending, a balanced budget and a stronger European Union, with France as its de facto leader. He has also criticized China's protection of the Sudanese government against UN Security Council sanctions. In contrast to Sarkozy, Bayrou was highly critical of the American economic model under George Bush and of the unregulated free market in general. His criticism was that the United States had a "survival of the fittest" system where it was often stated that money was people's only motivation, where higher education was too expensive, and where the middle class was shrinking.[6] Bayrou criticized the Iraq war, saying it was "the cause of chaos" in the region[6].

Among major French politicians Bayrou's general policy outlook is closer to Obama's than is that of Nicolas Sarkozy or of the Socialists Martine Aubry or Ségolène Royal


Most recently, he has criticized the foreign policy of Sarkozy, for inviting the Libyan leader Muammar Khaddafi on a week-long state visit to France and signing military cooperation agreements with Libya.

In 2009, he declared himself to be shocked by statements of Pope Benedict XVI on the futility of condoms in AIDS prevention. [7]



Call for Olympic boycott

His call for France to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics drew criticism at home and internationally. During a rally in Paris on 21 March 21 he declared: "If this drama does not stop, France would do itself credit by not coming to the Olympic Games", criticising China's opposition to sanctions against Sudan over its involvement in the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. France has never boycotted any Olympics so far. [6]

Notes and references


(Bayrou is the sole author unless other names are mentioned.)

  • La Décennie des mal-appris. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1990. ISBN 2-08-066472-7.  , subject(s): Enseignement—Réforme—France—1970-, Éducation et État—France—1970-.
  • Le roi libre. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1994. ISBN 2-08-066821-8.   le Grand livre du mois 1994, subject(s): Henri IV (roi de France ; 1553-1610 ) -- Biographies, France—1589-1610 (Henri IV).
  • Le roi libre. Paris: France loisirs. 1995. ISBN 2-7242-8944-7.  
  • Letamendia, Pierre (1995). Le Mouvement républicain populaire : le MRP : histoire d'un grand parti français. Paris: Beauchesne. ISBN 2-7010-1327-5.  , preface by François Bayrou.
  • Le droit au sens. Paris: Flammarion. 1996. ISBN 2-08-067204-5.  , le Grand livre du mois 1996, subject(s): Politique et éducation—France—1990-, France—Conditions sociales—1981-.
  • Gelly, Violaine (1996). François Bayrou : portrait. [Étrépilly]: Bartillat. ISBN 2-84100-048-6.  
  • Le roi libre. Paris: Éd. J'ai lu. 1996. ISBN 2-277-24183-0.  , series: J'ai lu 4183.
  • Michelland, Antoine; and Séguy, Philippe (1996). François Bayrou : "et si la Providence veut". Monaco ; [Paris]: Éd. du Rocher. ISBN 2-268-02400-8.  
  • France. Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (1995-1997) (c1996). Les Etats généraux de l'Université. Paris: ONISEP.  , preface by François Bayrou.
  • France. Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (1995-1997) (1996). Les États généraux de l'Université : intervention de François Bayrou, ministre de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, Grand amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne, 18 juin 1996. [Paris]: [Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche].  
  • Saint-louis. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1997. ISBN 2080672088.  
  • Henri IV. [Paris]: Perrin jeunesse. 1998. ISBN 2-262-01301-2.  , subject(s): Henri IV (roi de France ; 1553-1610 ) -- Ouvrages pour la jeunesse.
  • Ils portaient l'écharpe blanche : l'aventure des premiers réformés, des Guerres de religion à l'édit de Nantes, de la Révocation à la Révolution. Paris: B. Grasset. 1998. ISBN 2-246-55981-2.  
  • Henri IV : le roi libre. [Paris]: Flammarion. ISBN 2-08-067725-X.  , le Grand livre du mois 1999.
  • Bayrou, François; and Pierre-Brossolette, Sylvie (1999). Hors des sentiers battus : entretiens avec Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette. Paris: Hachette littératures. ISBN 2-01-235258-8.  
  • Ils portaient l'écharpe blanche : l'aventure des premiers réformés, des Guerres de religion à l'édit de Nantes, de la Révocation à la Révolution. Paris: Librairie générale française. 2000. ISBN 2-253-14779-6.  , series: Le livre de poche 14779.
  • Chaline, Nadine-Josette (2000). Jean Lecanuet. Paris: Beauchesne. ISBN 2-7010-1405-0.  , "témoignages de François Bayrou et de Dominique Baudis", series: Politiques & chrétiens 16.
  • François Bayrou, Qui êtes-vous ? Que proposez-vous ?. [Paris]: Archipel. 2001. ISBN 2841872831.  , series: L'Info. Citoyenne.
  • Relève. [Paris]: Grasset. 2001. ISBN 2246618215.  
  • Oui : Plaidoyer pour la Constitution européenne. [Paris]: Plon. 2005. ISBN 2259201830.  
  • Au nom du Tiers-Etat. [Paris]: Hachette. October 2006. ISBN 2012372503.  
  • Projet d'Espoir. [Paris]: Plon. March 2007. ISBN 2259201628.  

External links

Preceded by
Jack Lang
Minister of National Education
1993 – 1997
Succeeded by
Claude Allègre


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