Former minister Cécile Duflot has been laying into Prime Minister Manuel Valls in an interview with business daily Les Echos. Duflot is one of many feeling ruffled by Valls’ performance at the employers’ federation conference on Wednesday. He got a standing ovation from France’s top business people after he told them “j’aime l’entreprise” (I love business). It’s all part of the government’s sharp turn to the right and the desire to get the French economy moving again after it stalled in the first half of the year.
Duflot is a member of the green party, EELV (Europe Ecologie Les Verts), and served as ecology minister for two years under former Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
In the interview she says that Malls was “imitating Thatcher” when he did his “liberal stand-up” at the Medef conference. Naturally, Duflot is not viewing any imitation of Thatcher as a compliment. It’s also important to understand that liberal doesn’t have the same centrist (UK) or left-wing (US) connotation in France. Instead, it tends to refer to free-market economic policies and is used as an insult by the French left, in the same way as it’s used as an insult by the American right. I know, it gets a bit confusing.
Here’s what she said:
“Le stand-up libéral de Manuel Valls relève de la posture, une stratégie de communication pour apparaître moderne…Être moderne, ce n’est pas faire du blairo-thatchérisme ringard.”
Translated as “Manuel Valls’ liberal stand-up is just posturing, a communication strategy to look modern….but looking modern isn’t about some kind of cheesy Blair-Thatcher act.”
She adds that “imitating Thatcher in 2014 is really sad.”
Duflot published an outspoken book last week about her time in office. In it, she spoke of her disappointment with Francois Hollande as president. She says in the book “à force d’avoir voulu être le président de tous, il n’a su être le président de personne”, or “by trying to be a president for everyone, he ended up being the president of noone.”
She’s also reported to have told Manuel Valls she would never serve in any government led by him as way back as the 2012 election. She kept her word when the Greens all decided to stay out of Valls’ first cabinet in April.
Duflot is now one of several former cabinet members who are outside the tent. Like Arnaud Montebourg, she’s a charismatic media performer. Could a bid to be the Greens’ presidential candidate for 2017 be in the offing?