“We are gathered to hear you, Mr. Prime Minister, sorry. But I anticipate,” joked Renaissance MP Florent Boudié after the laughter of his colleagues. The slip of the tongue by the rapporteur of the bill on immigration, during the hearing of Gérald Darmanin by the Law Committee, Tuesday November 21, says a lot about the views attributed to the Minister of the Interior.
Several “rounds” of consultations
Illustration: in November and December 2022, Gérald Darmanin and Olivier Dussopt, Minister of Labor, were inseparable to present the text. From Monday, the first will be alone on stage to defend it in committee. He is now the one who embodies it and must find a compromise.
“He knows that he has an obligation to achieve results,” insists someone close to Emmanuel Macron. In other words, would it play a part in its future, including for the presidential election of 2027? Good news for the person concerned: in La Tribune Dimanche, seventeen LR deputies (out of 62) declare that they are in a “constructive” spirit in order to “achieve a point of balance” with the executive.
Confirmed in his position during the July reshuffle, the number three in the government no longer counts the rounds of consultations on a text which becomes a marker of his pragmatism, according to some. “Gérald did the job, he met the parliamentarians, he is good,” observes a leader of the majority. “Relationships are fluid. He pays particular attention to elected officials. These are ways of doing things close to ours. We say to ourselves: “He comes from us”,” admits an LR deputy invited to this diplomacy of lunches and receptions, Place Beauvau.
“The best sophist in government”
“Gérald Darmanin does more than listen to elected officials, he takes up their proposals,” notes Renaissance MP Mathieu Lefèvre, his former chief of staff at the Ministry of Public Accounts, then at the Interior. In fact, a large part of the report by Senator LR François-Noël Buffet inspired the original bill. “He is a minister who understood what a relative majority is,” underlines an elected LR official. But the outstretched hand transformed over the months into a standoff with right-wing parliamentarians, who toughened the text in the Senate.
However, this pragmatism sometimes annoys: “there is a kind of permanent deception”, denounces the boss of LR deputies Olivier Marleix, not hiding a “certain distrust of the words of the Minister of the Interior, capable of taking positions in the Senate and then, as soon as his back is turned, saying something else.” “He is the best sophist in the government,” adds Ugo Bernalicis, deputy of La France insoumise du Nord, Gérald Darmanin’s chosen territory.
Above all, the minister from the RPR, then the UMP and LR would only make one-sided concessions: he “gives enormous guarantees to the right-wing electorate, which has become the safest Macronist electorate” and “makes of the pragmatic RN by going into the field of its proposals”, tackles Ugo Bernalicis. “Gérald Darmanin is a minister of police,” adds a ministerial advisor. Focused on the security of the 2024 Olympic Games, he wants to “restore authority everywhere”, when he evokes the “wilding” of a part of society after the deadly fight in the Drôme.
“A regal word and a social word”
Gérald Darmanin also operates the entire range of responsibilities of his ministry, which ranges from religions to overseas territories, including local authorities. In mid-November, he organized the “first Beauvau meetings” dedicated to the insecurity and incivility to which elected officials are subject.
“Her scope of action enters into direct competition with that of the Prime Minister, thanks to the prefectural body,” estimates Ugo Bernalicis. “He did not try to run away from the subjects, passed the law against separatism,” highlights Mathieu Lefèvre. He has a sovereign voice and a social voice, knows how to talk about many subjects, due to his local roots and his time in public accounts. »
Grandson of harki and son of a cleaning lady, Gérald Darmanin maintains the story of his origins and his affiliation with the social Gaullism of Philippe Séguin. “I feel justified in saying that we must take care of the social pot that is boiling,” he declared to La Voix du Nord at the end of August, on the occasion of his political return to his stronghold of Tourcoing, on the working class theme. Inside for three years and four months, Gérald Darmanin is doing better than Gaston Defferre and Jean-Pierre Chevènement. A longevity that he wants to turn into an asset around 2027.
Itinerary of a child of the right
1982. Born in Valenciennes (North). Gérald Darmanin is a graduate of the Lille Institute of Political Studies.
1998. Membership of the RPR.
2012. Elected UMP deputy for the North, then mayor of Tourcoing two years later.
2015. Campaign director of his friend Xavier Bertrand for the regional elections in Hauts-de-France. The following year, he supported Nicolas Sarkozy in the right-wing primary.
2017. He broke with his political family, Les Républicains, and entered the government of Édouard Philippe after the election of Emmanuel Macron.
2020. Minister of the Interior, he adopted the law reinforcing “respect for the principles of the Republic”.
Avril 2023. He declares that he was “mistaken” in opposing the law on homosexual marriage ten years earlier. In August, he organized his own political comeback in Tourcoing.