18 February 2011

The Alliot-Marie Affair

French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie is facing intense public scrutiny and calls for her resignation in the aftermath of a Christmas vacation in Tunisia. With anti-government protests there already begun in December, Alliot-Marie is accused of possible conflicts of interest, stemming from revelations concerning a ride in a private plane owned by a wealthy Tunisian; a real-estate deal concluded between that plutocrat and her parents; and a previously undisclosed phone conversation with then-President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Indeed, upon her return to France, Alliot-Marie revealed none of these details (leaving that job to the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné) but initially expressed support for the embattled Ben Ali regime. Not least because the French government is widely perceived as having been unprepared for the Tunisian uprising, Alliot-Marie’s critics have kept her on the defensive ever since.

In the eyes of this observer, she’s badly mismanaged the scandal: first denying (falsely) the Tunisian businessman’s close ties to the Ben Ali family; castigating opponents who, she says, are trying to use her parents’ private dealings to bring her down; and insisting that she’s been forthcoming about the matter, even while embarrassing details continue to surface, one by one.

With due respect to Le Canard Enchaîné (and, for that matter, to The Onion), what are some of the other allegations now emerging in the aftermath of Alliot-Marie’s Tunisian holiday?

  • Re-gifted the Moulinex blender her cousin gave her last year.

  • Forgot to pack sunscreen. The sun in Tunisia can be very powerful, you know.

  • Petitioned Tunisia’s Parliament to declare her Queen for a Day.

  • Kept singing Carla Bruni songs after others asked her to stop.

  • Drank local, varietal wine on at least two occasions.

  • Insulted limousine driver who mistook her for Christine Ockrent.

  • Failed to show proper reverence for locations where Star Wars was filmed.

  • Bought tacky souvenir T-shirt as gift for Martine Aubry; did not remove price tag.

  • Recommended that Tunisian protesters eat cake.*

  • In blatant defiance of official French policy, tipped waiters for good service.

*Note pour les francophones: “brioche” serait l’équivalent.

UPDATE: On February 27, President Sarkozy announced that Alliot-Marie would step down from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to be replaced by Alain Juppé.


Jules said...

J'ai ri. Je n'étais pas au courant pour le t-shirt, et encore moins pour Star Wars

William V. Madison said...

C'est normal. Il n'y a que les étrangers, pour arriver à la vraie connaissance des Affaires Etrangères, Monsieur.