the man who thought he was president

At the age of 91, Édouard Balladur had to answer to the Court of Justice of the Republic for the suspicion of hidden financing of his presidential campaign from 1995, which was estimated at six to 10 million francs (between one and 1.5 million euros) ended up unexplained at the time Way on his campaign accounts.

Édouard Balladur, in turn described as a great bourgeois full of arrogance or an “honest man” with a somewhat outdated style, broke into French political life in 1986 when Jacques Chirac, then leader of a right to victory in the parliamentary elections, made his all-powerful Minister of State in the first cohabitation government responsible for the economy, finance and privatization.

Caricatured as a monarch

Under the gold of the Louvre Palace, which at the time housed the premises of his ministry, the new government delighted number 2 caricaturists who represent him with a Louis XV wig on a limousine chair.

Calm and confident in appearance, true to the suit with the double pockets and red socks, a more “British” look combined with a disciplined language, Edouard. Balladur is unanimously assessed as “polite”. “It’s a little boring,” commented this great republican ceremony lover.

He was born on May 2, 1929 in Smyrna (now Izmir) in Turkey to a family of wealthy Catholic Levantine merchants and left the country with his two older brothers, his father, the director of the Ottoman Bank, and his mother Mustapha Kemal Ataturk ” A remarkable woman “after him. The family ended up in Marseille, where he grew up a sensible and hardworking student. After studying law, which was interrupted by tuberculosis, he left the ENA as an auditor for the State Council. His brother, a renowned architect, built the pyramids of the seaside resort of La Grande-Motte (Hérault).

Leading actor on May 68 with Pompidou

At the age of 35 he joined the cabinet of Georges Pompidou, then Prime Minister of General de Gaulle, and in 1968 took part in the Grenelle Accords with Jacques Chirac. He then followed his mentor as Deputy General Secretary and then General Secretary of the Presidency to the Élysée Palace. In the private sector, Jacques Chirac, now President of the RPR, is looking for him to bring him back into politics in the 1980s.

In 1988 François Mitterrand was re-elected for his second term and the right lost the parliamentary elections. Édouard Balladur retaliated in 1993 with the return of a “horizon blue” room and moved to Matignon to live together a second time.

In November 1993, Edouard Balladur visited the Paris metro at the Gare du Nord station. The Prime Minister wanted to see for himself how the RATP works for 1 hour.

A brotherly battle

On the right the roles seem clear: in Balladur the role of Prime Minister, in Chirac (then Mayor of Paris and President of the RPR) the preparation of the 1995 presidential elections. But on January 18th with the support of the majority of opinion and the Pasqua clan ( led by Nicolas Sarkozy, young budget minister), Balladur declares himself a presidential candidate, supported by a large part of the right and the center, but also by the national media, which are not necessarily the right. After Jacques Delors’ non-candidacy, polls in December 1994 announced his almost certain election to the Elysee Palace.

The media and business candidate, who had long been widespread in the first round, finished third with 18.58% of the vote, behind Chirac and socialist Lionel Jospin. His failure is the death knell to his national ambitions, and this fraternal struggle between the two “thirty year old” friends – the term is signed by Chirac – will permanently divide the rights between Chiraquians and Balladurians. This can be seen in the hostility since that time between Jean-louis Debré, who is loyal to Chiraquie and Nicolas Sarkozy

On the evening of the announcement of the results of the first round, on April 23, 1995, Édouard Balladur announced in his campaign headquarters that he would withdraw under the influence of his supporters in favor of Jacques Chirac.

He returned to his seat as deputy for Paris and from 2002 headed the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly. In 2001 he tries to be invested as the right candidate for the mayor of Paris, but the Chiraquiens, revenge, prefer Philippe Séguin. Edouard Balladur is even humiliated when selecting the candidates and has to wait alone in a corridor for two hours during the hearing of his rival.

At the end of 2006, at the age of 77, he announced his retirement from active political life. In 2010 he rejected the proposal of his former protégé Nicolas Sarkozy, who had become president, to appoint him to the Constitutional Council.

At that point, he was overtaken by the judiciary, who suspected him of fueling his campaign accounts thanks to return commissions on arms deals.
In 2017, Mr Balladur, who opposed any illegal funding, was tried by the Republic Court of Justice in the context of the “Karachi Affair” named after an attack in this Pakistani city on May 8, 2002, in particular 11 French people were killed.

A three week trial

More than twenty-five years later, ex-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur will be tried this Tuesday (and for three weeks) in the Court of Justice of the Republic on suspicion of hidden funding for his 1995 presidential campaign, part of the sweeping Karachi affair. The 91-year-old Balladur appears alongside his former defense minister François Léotard (78) for “complicity in the misuse of corporate assets”, with the former prime minister also being tried for “concealing” this offense. However, the trial could be suspended once it opens as, according to a judicial source, Mr Léotard has stated that he is sick and unable to be present.

The two former state clerks are to be sentenced to two to five years in prison seven months after the conviction of six other protagonists, including mediator Ziad Takieddine, with several consequences in the non-ministerial aspect of this case.
The Court, made up of three judges and twelve MPs, will be immersed for three afternoons a week in the 1995 presidential campaign marked by the fraternal war between Jacques Chirac and whoever will finally stand against him. , Edouard Balladur.

Validated but irregular accounts

The latter is accused of being behind a system of illegal return commissions to important arms deals with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan aimed at bailing out his campaign accounts. The investigation was particularly interested in the payment of 10.2 million francs (about 1.5 million euros) all at once and in cash immediately after his defeat in the first round.

In 1995, Mr Balladur’s election campaign reports were extremely validated by the Constitutional Council. It was only fifteen years later when it was overtaken by an investigation launched following a complaint from the families of the victims of the Karachi attack on May 8, 2002. “On this state matter, we must not forget that Mr Balladur presented himself to the public as an advocate for the moralization of political life in France. It is up to the CJR to sanction these abuses,” said Me Olivier Morice, lawyer for families of victims.

François Léotard, a great politician, also on the dock

Ex-minister and head of the late UDF, François Léotard, who was tried on Tuesday along with Edouard Balladur in the Karachi affair, is a major outbreak of politics that he left in the 2000s. He was the media darling in the 1980s, making this young man a potential president. But in the twenty-first century, he assures us that he would have liked to have been a lighthouse keeper … At 20, he was planning to take orders.

The mayor of Fréjus, where his father had to deal with the Malpasset dam disaster in 1959, was minister during the two unions under François Mitterrand: first culture (1986-88), where he did not support the comparison with his predecessor Jack Lang in the government of Jacques Chirac. Then in Defense (1993-95) in the government of Edouard Balladur, which placed him at the front of Operation Turquoise, intervention in Rwanda by French troops under a UN mandate. The current never passed with the military.

From 1996 to 1998 he was chairman of the UDF (Union for French Democracy) and succeeded Valéry Giscard d’Estaing without, however, avoiding the division of the party.

Electoral failure and legal setbacks

Failure to vote – as in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in 1998 – and legal problems – in 2004 sentenced to ten months in prison for money laundering and illegal funding of a party – weakened them. Without forgetting the cult program of the nineties, the Guignols de l’Info de Canal, who made it their Turkish head.

. On the verge of death, he underwent triple bypass surgery in 1995 before being severely affected by the death of his brother, actor and singer Philippe Léotard in 2001.

Since then, this staunch Catholic has been discreet and lives in Fréjus (Var) with his wife Isabelle, with whom he had a son. In fact, several cases have poisoned Mr. Léotard’s career. Like the “wall” of his villa in Fréjus, which ended in a sacking, or the discovery of false postage stamps from the Var prefecture in his town hall in Fréjus, which led him to resign from his mandate as mayor.