French politics

Jérôme Cahuzac’s (useful) sacrifice

Jérôme Cahuzac, French minister for Budget from May 2012 to March 2013, at the French National Assembly, the 10th of July 2012

Jérôme Cahuzac, French minister for Budget from May 2012 to March 2013, at the French National Assembly, the 10th of July 2012

Jérôme Cahuzac resigned as French minister for Budget, just after the opening of a judicial inquiry for tax fraud laundering regarding the presumed existence of a non-declared bank account in Switzerland than Singapore in the 2010’s. The ex-minister, immediately replaced by Bernard Cazeneuve (minister of European Affairs so far) still affirms his innocence explaining he decided to resign in the interest of the government and to guarantee the good functioning of justice.

Jérôme Cahuzac quits the Ayrault government although no reproach can be made against him. Indeed, and despites some enough credible and exploitable elements for inquiry French justice has only soupcons towards Cahuzac who clearly denies. Making this difficult decision, the resigning minister is taking his responsibilities and protecting the government to prepare his defence better. Indeed, he applies a kind a non-official rule in France indicating that any minister concerned by a case must leave the Cabinet, even if there is no formal accusation against him as on November 1999 when Dominique Strauss-Kahn had to resign as minister for Economy and Finances, because of the MNEF affair, accused of fraud. He was declared as innocent by justice, some years after.

Although he should be considered as innocent, Cahuzac had no other choices than leaving the government in order to not give wrong to the President of the Republic, put forward during his campaign, the idea of “République irréprochable”, that is to say, a more moralistic and exemplar behaviour in politics. The minister of Budget’s resignation was, in a certain way, expected insofar as it would have been difficult for Cahuzac to give his version of the facts and be in the government both. Leaving Bercy (the French Economy and Finances Ministry in Paris), he and François Hollande want to anticipate and minimize at the maximum the political consequences of this resignation for the ruling majority and the government.

The political reactions regarding Cahuzac’s resignation were diverse and without surprise. If the socialist and progressive majority pays tribute to the work done by the ex-minister, people in the opposition consider his resignation as late, even if some of them forgot Eric Woerth – Nicolas Sarkozy’s minister of Budget – waited for a long time before resigning, despites some concrete and damning elements concerning the financing of the 2007 Sarkozy’s presidential campaign. And regarding the Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Front de Gauche, he was ironic about the Bernard Cazeneuve’s appointment to Budget via his Twitter account.

Jérôme Cahuzac with François Hollande in 2009 in Toulouse

Jérôme Cahuzac with François Hollande in 2009 in Toulouse

The Jérôme Cahuzac’s constrained resignation is clearly not good news for François Hollande all the more, the ex-minister was considered for his serious and his efficiency regarding the management of the State accounts. Nonetheless, behaving like this, the French president protects his government, remains faithful to his “République irréprochable” credo and still trusts on his ex-minister both. Sacrificing Cahuzac, he avoids the government to be too much exposed, which would have been hazardous, one year just before the local elections. In fact, he is highly probable François Hollande gets advantage of the situation, politically speaking insofar as he will be able to put his principles forward and credible vis-à-vis the opinion, applying them and not blaming his ex-minister both. In other words, the Cahuzac’s sacrifice is useful for the French leader from a strategic point of view.

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