STORY – Immigration, ecology, institutions, diplomacy… Since seeing his perimeter extended, the ambitious Minister of the Interior has multiplied the round trips and touched on a wide range of themes.
For the third time in less than a year, Gérald Darmanin will land this Saturday June 24 in Mayotte. The Indian Ocean archipelago occupies a significant place in the daily life of the host of Place Beauvau. In his office hung a large map of the newest French department, where he launched last April Operation Wuambushu against delinquency, illegal immigration and unsanitary housing.
Since the Overseas fell into his hands, after the short-lived page of Yaël Braun-Pivet, the ambitious Minister of the Interior has made it an instrument to broaden his field of action. Did his distant predecessor François Baroin not see in this ministry a “mini Matignon”?
“Darmanin uses the overseas territories for his personal ambitions”, observes an adviser to the executive familiar with the file. At a time when the government’s number three is struggling to get its immigration law through, nothing better than this large portfolio to touch on all themes. What’s more for a man who sees himself lending the desire to be appointed to Matignon to replace Élisabeth Borne.
“When you are overseas minister, you are interested in all the subjects that concern our 3 million fellow citizens” ultramarines, observes Gérald Darmanin, “not unhappy to sometimes go beyond the usual subjects of the Ministry of the Interior”. As during his last trip to New Caledoniaat the beginning of June – there again, his third in a year -, where he went to talk about ecology on the island of Ouvéa. “We can’t go overseas without talking about global warming”, he insists, yet little known for his “green” speech. Sometimes he also tries his hand at diplomacy and visits the neighboring countries of these territories.
In Reunion, to defend purchasing power; in Guyana, where he announced more gendarmes; in Martinique, to fight against drug trafficking… Gérald Darmanin multiplies the round trips. Even the 10,000 inhabitants of Saint-Barthélemy have not been forgotten. He was also planned to go to Wallis and Futuna, one of the most remote communities in France, in March, but he had to cancel this trip to follow the mobilization against the pension reform from Paris. He then sent his minister delegate, Jean-François Carenco, in his place.
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In private, his partner regrets his little room for maneuver. Relegated to the background, the former prefect was asked to focus on the subjects of employment and the fight against the high cost of living, in order to leave his supervisory minister, Gérald Darmanin, to leave his mark on two priorities : the institutional future of New Caledonia and the maintenance of order in Mayotte. Two subjects through which the former member of the Republicans (LR) tries to send signals to elected officials on the right. “Beyond serving his national ambition, Gérald Darmanin loves big politics. He takes on complicated files and it suits him well.judge the deputy (Renaissance) of New Caledonia, Nicolas Metzdorf.
In the footsteps of his predecessor, Sébastien Lecornu, Gérald Darmanin manages the Caledonian question in direct connection with the Élysée. To the detriment of Matignon, the traditional theater of unions and disunions between loyalists and separatists, from Michel Rocard to Édouard Philippe. The Overseas Minister is also preparing to travel to the Pacific archipelago with Emmanuel Macron at the end of July, in the midst of negotiations around a reform of the Constitution to get out of Noumea Accord.
But, despite the care he tries to take to maintain his regal image, Gérald Darmanin does not avoid pitfalls. The deputy (Liot) of Guadeloupe Olivier Serva recognizes a “political skill”, but he still judges “lamentable” his polemical remarks on slavery.
“Contrary to what is said (…), it was the French Republic which abolished slavery (…)”, declared the minister in February, before having to explain himself under the pressure of about fifteen parliamentarians denouncing a “historical revisionism”. Gérald Darmanin is also in a hurry to obtain results against the high cost of living. “The account is not there, because the step to be taken is important”, regrets Olivier Serva.
If he is kept in his post by then, while the scenarios of a reshuffle this summer are circulating, the minister is already planning several trips to the tropics. At the start of the school year, he wants to go once again to Mayotte and New Caledonia. Far from Paris.