Controversial Right-wing Politician Named France’s New Culture Minister

Controversial Right-wing Politician Named France’s New Culture Minister

Newly appointed French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal took France’s political and media spheres by surprise on Thursday as he named controversial politician Rachida Dati his culture minister.

Her arrival in the new-look centrist cabinet was unexpected given that Dati was a spokesperson for center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy during his presidential campaign and was Minister of Justice from 2007 to 2009 under his presidency.  

The appointment was made as part of a government cabinet reshuffle rolled out by Attal just two days after he became France’s youngest-ever prime minister in a move by President Emmanuel Macron to reboot his presidency, which began with a center-left mandate but is now moving the dial to the right.

Dati replaces Rima Abdul Malak whose position has been looking fragile in recent weeks after she found herself at odds with Macron over her suggestion that Gérard Depardieu should be stripped of his Legion of Honor in light of multiple sexual assault accusations and opposition over a controversial new immigration law.

After her stint as Minister of Justice, Dati went on to serve as a member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2019.

More recently, Dati challenged Paris’s incumbent left-wing mayor Anne Hidalgo as a candidate for the liberal-conservative party Les Républicans (LR) in mayoral election in 2020.

She lost but went on to become the mayor for Paris’s upmarket 7th Arrondissement, which is one of the French capital’s richest neighborhoods and home to the Eiffel Tower.

Born in France to a Moroccan father and Algerian mother as the second of 12 children and raised in a tough working-class estate in Burgundy, Dati was the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post in France.  

The politician has rarely taken a conventional path in both her private and public life.

In 2009 she hit the headlines at home and worldwide after she returned to work as Justice Minister less than a week after giving birth to her first and only child, declaring maternity leave was for wimps.

Dati has raised her daughter alone and never revealed the identity of the father.

More recently, Dati has been caught up in an investigation into consulting fees she received from the alliance between France’s Renault and Japan’s Nissan automobile companies during her time as an MEP.

In 2021 she was charged with “passive corruption by a person who at the time was holding an elective mandate” and “benefiting from abuse of power” related to the allegations that the money was in exchange for lobbying services at the European Parliament. Dati has categorically denied the allegations.

Following the completion of an investigation last September, the French Financial Prosecution Service is due to rule on whether the case will proceed or not in the coming weeks.

The post “Controversial Right-wing Politician Named France’s New Culture Minister” by Harrison Jacobs was published on 01/12/2024 by