Edouard Phillippe

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You are Edouard Phillippe, Prime Minister of France


Quotes

"I am a man of the right…but I know that common good must guide our work”

“The French voted for a transformation (but) that doesn’t mean a refusal of dialog.”

“Macron…assumes nothing but promises everything, with the ardor of a juvenile conqueror and the cynicism of an old truck driver”

Being Prime Minister

As the Prime Minister of France you have many duties and powers. Unlike many other nations, the Prime Minister of France holds a position that is much more akin to the American Vice President. In situations where a single party controls both the executive power and the parliament, the Prime Minister functions as the President's right hand man. The Prime Minister owes his political fortune to the President who appointed him to office. For this reason, he is a faithful confidant, advisor, friend, and champion of the President. As the Prime Minister you are empowered to oversee the day to day functioning of the French Government and nation. While the French President could interdict and overrule the Prime Minister at any point, day to day affairs are generally left to the Prime Minister. There are several reasons for this; one is accountability. Should something go wrong, the Prime Minister will bear the initial burden for that failing. In government, many things will go wrong. The Prime Minister serves as an alliance builder for the President; he reaches out to political parties who may be on the fence with regard to a political issue and tries to sway them to the President and his point of view. This is the Prime Minister's key job--negotiation. S/he is responsible for insuring that the French Parliament supports the French president. A French Prime Minister is tirelessly looking for political solutions that will make his party look good. For this reason, he needs to be a pragmatic risk taker. Unlike in contemporary American politics, French Prime Ministers are generally judged by their ability to make good deals, both in foreign and domestic affairs. While there are some places where the French people will want the government to remain strong, such as human rights, there are many more where the French people are looking for the government to strike a bargain and move the country forward. With all of the bargaining necessary to keep the French government moving, it is a given fact that the Prime Minister will draw some flak from all sides. However, this is one of the PM’s primary roles, to get things done and to insulate the President from the scorn that day to day politics invokes.

You may be asking, what goals should I consider flexible, and which are those that are nonnegotiable? The furtherance of human rights is non-negotiable. France has lived through its period of empire, and no longer likes to see people forced to bow. Where there is a possibility of achieving an improvement in the respect of human rights you can expect to see France speak out. On issues like Iran and Hezbollah, France is much more pragmatic than the U.S. France does not believe that the existence of Israel is threatened. It tries to maintain as clear a view of the situation as possible. Hezbollah is viewed as a strong political party, which has moderated its stance dramatically. France views Hezbollah as a former terrorist entity that has reformed. With regard to Iran, France sees great potential here for humanitarian improvements and destabilizing military action. France believes that the only way forward to dealing with Iran is through diplomatic measures. This does not mean that France opposes all sanctions. It is for a measured approach to Iran, using sanctions and negotiations to make clear to the Iranians that there is a way out, and that if they change they can rejoin the nations of the world. France also has much deeper economic interests with Iran. So, it behooves France not to permanently alienate Iran. France must take a long-term view of the region, since these are its neighbors and trade allies. An example of where France is unwilling to negotiate is its belief that Israel must halt settlement expansion. Under the Oslo I and II accords, Israel pledged to do this, but it has failed to deliver. These settlements have a direct negative impact on the Palestinian population. Here, we should be careful. There is a difference between remaining firm and sacrificing relations. France will not change its view that settlements are illegal and should be stopped, but it will not sacrifice its relationship with Israel. So, what you should try to do is continue to bring up the issue with Israel, do not bend to Israeli claims, but also do not make threats that would jeopardize your relationship with Israel. Here, you hold onto your position out of principle. You feel that it is the right thing to do, so you continue to believe in it. The golden rule for France is Human Rights, protect these as well as you can without sacrificing important alliances and you will be acting true to your nation.

The Prime Minister's place is in preparing the ground for the President's actions. He should make strong use of the media since he is seen as a surrogate for the President, he should be able to easily grab the attention of media outlets. He should also be careful in choosing his words. He is the ultimate representative of the French nation and his actions represent not only the will of its leader, but the will of its people. As the Prime Minister of France you must attempt to control the media as best as you can. Your role as a negotiator, pragmatist and dealmaker means that you should attempt to use the media as a tool to bring people to the table. The media can serve as an excellent means to apply pressure to your opponents and get them to the negotiation table. Remember, your duty as the Prime Minister is to be flexible, find the areas where you can compromise, and strike a deal so that the President can act on it. Flexibility is one of the great attributes of Prime Ministers. Still, be mindful of what you are negotiating with. You are supposed to get good deals for your country. Sometimes the product that is being offered is not worth the price being asked. Remember, if you bring back a bad deal, you will bear the repercussions. So utilize the media, and make it appear as though your offers are rational and offer the best for everyone. The ability to control the media message is one of the key traits that must be held by every Prime Minister.

Your Story

You are Edouard Phillippe, selected by President Emmanuel Macron to be the Prime Minister of France in May 2017.

You have been chosen for this important position in the wake of a presidential election like no other in France’s history. Incredibly, the presidential candidates of both of France’s leading parties lost (badly!) in the semi-final round, leaving the head of the anti-immigrant National Front Party, headed by Marine Le Pen, and the newly-created En Marche! Party, a centrist party led by former Socialist party member Emmanuel Macron, to vie for the presidency. When Macron won, he immediately set about trying to form a cabinet that included politicians from both the left and the right and, given that goal, your selection as Prime Minister was a major coup. To understand why, we must briefly tell your personal and political story.

You were born in Rouen in the Normandy region in 1970, the son of two teachers. You spent a lot of time in Germany growing up, as your father was the head teacher at a French school in Bonn, and you speak German. You were raised in a left-wing household, and you yourself were active in the Socialist Party in your youth. You attended the Paris Institute of Political Studies (known in France as “Sciences Po”), graduating with a Law Degree in 1992. You later attended the prestigious Ecole National d’Administration (ENA), an elite training ground for the French Civil Service, from which several French Presidents, including Mr. Macron, graduated.

You started practicing law upon your graduation from ENA in 1997, and your first move into politics came in 2001 when you agreed to serve as Deputy Mayor of the northern port city of Le Havre. Around this time you left the Socialist Party, following the former Republican Prime Minister Alain Juppe when he formed the center-right Union for a Popular Movement Party in 2002. Over the following years you dabbled in politics as you also pursued your law practice and worked for a time in the nuclear power industry. Your major step into politics came in 2010 when you were elected mayor of Le Havre, a position you would hold until your appointment as Prime Minister, and you followed that election by winning a seat in the French National Assembly in 2012. As the presidential campaign began in 2016, you supported Alain Juppe (who had re-joined the Republicans), shifting your alliance to fellow Republican Francois Fillon when Juppe lost in the primary. Fillon, considered for a time to be the front-runner for the presidency, ran into trouble when accusations came out that his wife and two children had all held appointed positions (during Fillon’s tenure as Prime Minister) for which they were well-paid, but for which they did little work. With Emmanuel Macron’s stunning emergence into the political limelight with his May 2017 winning of the French presidency, you were his choice as Prime Minister, fulfilling what French journalist Jules Pecnard called the “three essential aspects: political renewal (at the age of only 46 years old), affiliation with the moderate right, and familiarity with the political terrain.” You are at the center of a massive political upheaval and, to add one more essential to Mr. Pecnard’s list, you are essential to the move from a presidential party of one—Macron—to a political party (now called La Republique En Marche) that must run legislative candidates across France so that it has power in the National Assembly to enact Macron’s vision. Your efforts to gain support and credibility from the political right and center will have a lot to do with the success of this enterprise. In addition to being a lawyer and a politician, you are also a novelist and an amateur boxer…perhaps you’ll be able to draw inspiration from all of this to assist you in this historic project.


Goals & Concerns in the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

It is important to understand that France is not a newcomer to the Middle East and its people. Unlike the U.S., France has been deeply involved in the Middle East for its entire history. Because of the ease of conducting trade over waterways, France, for a much of its early history, traded more with the Philistines than it did with the Germans. France has both ruled over Middle Eastern lands and been ruled by them. For this reason, the French view of the Middle East and its people is much more nuanced then that of many nations. We are concerned here with recent history more than any other period. After World War I, France took control of many Middle Eastern territories. Of these, Algeria and Lebanon are the most notable. Algeria was a very close French colony. There were even considerations of making Algeria part of France. However, the French held native Algerians as second-class citizens. Slowly, this built up a feeling of discontent in Algeria, which eventually lead to a brutal civil war. In the 1960s, French influence began to wane. In 1962, the French war with Algeria finally ended with the French being expelled. The end of the Algerian war was the finale in a long story of French failure in the region. In 1956, the Suez Canal was nationalized by Egypt. The French, in an effort to maintain control, attacked Egypt. However, they were repulsed and then forced to relinquish their attack by outside pressures. These two conflicts tarnished the French reputation in the region. The French were seen as oppressors. They were forced out of their protectorates, and instead of respecting the will of the people, they resorted to military force. However, unlike the U.S., France is located on the doorstep to the Middle East. After the Algerian war, France realized that it was necessary to reconcile with the Middle East. France relies on the Middle East for trade and resources, and it also relies on the Middle East for security. What happens in Europe has a direct effect on the Middle East and the same is true in reverse. So, France launched a campaign of creating positive relationships with its Arab neighbors. At the same time that this was going on, France was building up its relationship with Israel. While there have always been disagreements between Israel and France regarding both Israel's borders, and how it conducts itself with the Palestinian people, France has always been supportive of Israel in a general sense. The trade relations between France and Israel grew and prospered. The French President Charles De Gaulle frequently referred to Israel as a friend and ally in the region. His position of friendship was further bolstered by the large number of French Jews still living in France.

However, in 1967, the relationship between France and Israel changed drastically. While many see the 1967 war between Israel and Arab nations as a necessary pre-emptive attack on Israel’s part, just as many see it as a cunning surprise attack. This is a place where rational people may disagree. However, what is indisputable is that the Israeli attack placed France in an untenable position. On one hand, France's friend, Israel, attacked hostile Arab nations around her. On the other hand, the very countries with whom France was trying to build ties of friendship came under an unprovoked attack by France's ally. As one can see, there are multiple ways to frame the 1967 war, so to say that France could just choose to side with whoever was "Right" is all but impossible. Seeing this, France took the most practical choice, siding with those who had been attacked. While the Arab nations made provocative statements and movements towards Israel, nothing they did was an actual act of war. Furthermore, the benefits of siding with the Arabs outweighed that of siding with the Israelis. The Israelis, not the Arabs, had placed France in this horrible position. Israel acted without regard to the well being of its allies, and attacked. France was unwilling to be drawn into the conflict by such reckless actions, so it sided with the Arabs. The fallout of this action is still very much present. French politicians have historically been skeptical of Israeli intentions. However, in recent years, the relationship between Israel and France has improved. Under the Sarkozy administration, the Prime Minister of Israel was hosted in France numerous times. Sarkozy also made numerous state visits to France. Furthermore, French-Israeli trade expanded significantly. This is attributable to several important reasons--one is the Israeli economy. Israel has become a very strong player in the Mediterranean market. France, is keenly interested in getting access to Israeli markets. Israel is also a key political player in the Middle East. By giving Israel the cold shoulder, France lost significant influence within Israel. Israeli trade with France now comes in at over 1.6 billion Euros, not a small figure for the French economy. President Hollande sought to continue this warming in Franco-Israeli relations though, as you know, he had mixed success in this regard.

Still, Israel is not trusted. Remember, France has an interest in maintaining positive relations with all Middle Eastern countries. In the past, Israel threw away its relationship with France for a momentary advantage, and in more recent history France felt it was misled by Israel, which France sees as avoiding the implementation of treaties in regards to the Palestinians. France also maintains a complex relationship with the Palestinians and other Arab nations. The French are also greatly concerned with humanitarian issues. They see the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as unjust. France views the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the treatment of Palestinians through the creation of the separation barrier as inhumane. For these reasons, France is committed to providing aid to the Palestinian people. France provides one of the most generous amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians. It is committed to seeing a Palestinian state develop in the West Bank. Remember, support for the Palestinians is integral to French Foreign policy. France is still trying to improve its image in the Middle East. The French atrocities in the Algerian war were not forgotten. By supporting the Palestinian people, France can help mend those past scars. France also differs from the United States in its view of Hezbollah. France recognizes that Hezbollah is comprised of numerous entities, and that in recent years it has undergone a transformation. France does not view Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. Furthermore, France has actively prevented the placement of Hezbollah on the EU terrorist list. This does not mean that France will defend acts of violence. However, so long as Hezbollah remains peaceful, France seems unwilling to censure it. This clearly aggravates Israel, which was in armed conflict with Hezbollah in 2006, with relations remaining extremely tense. When viewing this conflict, one must remember that France once ruled over Lebanon. To throw Hezbollah under the bus, arbitrarily, just for the sake of improving relations with Israel, would not serve France's best interests. France has broad interests in the Middle East and it cannot sacrifice one interest to further another.

Goals

Israel/Palestine

• France is committed to a successful resolution of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. For this reason, France calls for the creation of a Palestinian state inside the 1967 green line.

• France calls for an immediate halt to all Israeli construction which violates the Oslo I and II accords. This includes all construction inside East Jerusalem.

• France recognizes Jerusalem as the capitol of both Israel and of the future Palestinian state.

• France universally condemns the use of violence by both parties.

• France condemns the use of barriers to impede the transit of Palestinians inside their own borders.

• France urges both parties to return to the negotiating table and to resolve the current conflict.

• France is dedicated to the existence of Israel, and is committed to the defense of Israel.

Middle East in General

• France recognizes that it has trade interests in all Middle Eastern countries. For this reason, France will attempt to be a voice of reason in the region.

• It is not in France's interest to sacrifice one nation’s interests in order to appease another. For this reason, France will not deny the right of Israel to exist to appease some Arab parties, nor will it condemn Hezbollah as a terrorist entity to appease Israel.

• France will do all that it can to better its image in the Middle East, and to create lasting relationships with Middle Eastern nations.

• France will not tolerate the violation of human rights by any parties.

Syria

• France is committed to ending the violence in Syria.

• France condemns the actions of China and Russia, who have blocked U.N. resolutions to sanction Syria strongly. France is dedicated to bringing an end to the blatant humanitarian violations in Syria.

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