Former French PM Cresson lambasts sexism at the heart of political class

Issued on: 15/05/2022 – 12:31

Former prime minister Edith Cresson on Sunday hit out at the sexism rife in the upper echelons of the French political system as speculation mounted that President Emmanuel Macron is set to name a woman to succeed Jean Castex as prime minister.

Cresson, 88, ruled at the Matignon – the Prime Minister’s office – between May 1991 and April 1992 when the party’s Socialist Francois Mitterand was in his second term as president.

She remains the only woman to have held the post.

“The fact that it is only in France that the question arises to appoint a woman to Matignon is in my scandalous eyes,” Cresson said in an interview with the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

“Has the question been asked in the United Kingdom, where Margaret Thatcher was in power for 11years? In Germany, where Angela Merkel was chancellor for 16 years? Never. The same goes for Portugal, where a woman was appointed prime minister long before me . “


It is understood that 44-year-old Macron is adamant that a woman heads the government at the start of his second term following his victory over Marine Le Pen in the April presidential elections.

Elisabeth BorneMarisol Touraine and Catherine Vautrin have emerged as the most likely candidates for the post.

“It is not the country that is macho: it is its political class,” added Cresson.

“There were the same attacks as there are today. I was under permanent criticism, they commented on my dress. We would never allow the same thing, the same comments, on the dress of male politicians.

“When we talk about women, we talk without embarrassment about their clothes or their appearance.”

Since winning a second term, Macron has vowed to heal the divisions within French society which faces rising prices. He has also promised to place more emphasis on environmental issues.

“The post of prime minister is a very difficult position in any case,” Cresson said. “And then if the difficulties are increased by the fact that the head of government is a woman, it complicates the political situation even more.

“If a woman were to be appointed, I will not give any advice. I simply tell her that she will need a lot of courage.”

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