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Jean-Michel Blanquer, the springs of record longevity

Four years and almost four months … Ahead of Christian Fouchet, a figure of Gaullism in office in the 1960s, Jean-Michel Blanquer now holds the record for the longest term as Minister of Education under the Ve Republic. How to explain such longevity in this chair that a former member of the ministry described with laughter as “The place of the dead” ?

→ ANALYSIS. Jean-Michel Blanquer, such a long fixed-term contract

The proximity that this “techno”, former rector turned political animal, maintains with the President of the Republic, is a first response. “He quickly established himself as a figure of Macronie”, observes Senator LR Stéphane Piednoir. Even if, nuance this former maths teacher, “For lack of having exercised any mandate or enjoying experience outside of teaching, he did not acquire the stature which would have enabled him to take the head of another ministry”. Allusion to the last reshuffle, summer 2020, where the Ministry of the Interior escaped him.

Resources to take the blows

Jean-Michel Blanquer kept the head of this “rough” ministry, as Pierre Mathiot, the boss of Sciences Po Lille, calls it, who led with him the reform of the high school and the bac. “The weight of the unions remains strong and social relations strained. But the minister has the mental resources to take the blows and he never loses sight of the five-year roadmap set upon his arrival in spring 2017. “

PORTRAIT. Jean-Michel Blanquer, the unsinkable

Duplication of classes, reduction to three years of compulsory education, redesign of training, Grenelle education… Jean-Michel Blanquer does not owe his survival to his inaction. Yet unlike so many of his predecessors, he didn’t experience a sling that could push him towards the exit.

“Trade union modes of action have evolved and within each organization, opinions sometimes diverge on its reforms, comments Catherine Nave-Bekhti, general secretary of Sgen-CFDT. Even if everyone agrees that their determination sometimes leans into rigidity, into excessive verticality. “

For Pierre Mathiot, Jean-Michel Blanquer would actually rely on “The silent majority of teachers, who without necessarily liking the minister, appreciate that he advances certain issues.” The person concerned also obtained favorable arbitrations on salary increases …

The minister of opinion rather than teachers

The polls, however, are proving cruel: according to the latest SE-UNSA barometer, only 10% of teachers say they agree with the government’s educational choices. Also, it is from the general public that Jean-Michel Blanquer will seek his support, with 44% of positive opinions according to an Ifop-Paris Match-Sud Radio survey.

“He is often presented as a liberal but his speech on the fundamentals of reading, writing, counting, and his ranting about secularism flatter the majority of French people who, in terms of education, remain conservative”, analyzes historian Claude Lelièvre.

“The minister often plays the parents, even the grandparents, against the teachers”, adds the professor of economic and social sciences Philippe Watrelot (1), who also underlines his ability to “Saturate the media space”, including killing “Peremptory statements, inconsistent with reality”, as on the re-entry bonus that would be used to buy flat screens. “Passionate about chess”, Jean-Michel Blanquer advances his pawns “At full speed to create an effect of astonishment”: “His opponents are barely mobilizing that he is already opening a new front. “


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