Europe

Why do ministers feel compelled to cut their vacations short?


Alexis Delafontaine, edited by Solène Leroux

Many ministers remain on deck during these summer months. But do they feel compelled to cut their holidays short? It has become a habit because of several precedents, such as Jean-François Mattei, former Minister of Health, absent during the heat wave of 2003.

The return to politics promises to be tense. The holidays are also planning to be short for the government. This is particularly the case for Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, asked about fires and urban rodeos. No truce during the summer for several ministers and it has even become a habit because of several precedents. In 2003, Jean-François Mattei made a terrible error of judgement. Then Minister of Health, he prefers to stay on vacation rather than manage one of the worst heat waves that France has known. Balance sheet: 15,000 dead and a standing opinion.

Impossible to stay in post after such a failure. The minister will be landed a few months later. Another example in 1999, after the sinking of the oil tanker Erika. The Minister of the Environment at the time, Dominique Voynet, refused to interrupt his vacation in Reunion to go there. An obvious misstep.

A holiday two hours from Paris

Since then, everyone has learned their lesson well. As in July 2018, while France is celebrating the Football World Cup, the Benalla affair shakes the Élysée. As a result, the ministers shorten their holidays and everyone tries to calm things down until the president speaks.

Now, summer and winter, instructions are given to ministers. Holidays are a maximum of two hours from Paris.

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