Jean-Marc Ayrault

Jean-Marc Ayrault
Prime Minister of France
In office
15 May 2012  31 March 2014
President François Hollande
Preceded by François Fillon
Succeeded by Manuel Valls
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
In office
11 February 2016  10 May 2017
Prime Minister Manuel Valls
Bernard Cazeneuve
Preceded by Laurent Fabius
Succeeded by Jean-Yves Le Drian (Europe and Foreign Affairs)
Leader of the Socialist, Radical, Citizen and Miscellaneous Left group in the National Assembly
In office
12 June 1997  19 June 2012
Preceded by Laurent Fabius
Succeeded by Bruno Le Roux
Mayor of Nantes
In office
20 March 1989  21 June 2012
Preceded by Michel Chauty
Succeeded by Patrick Rimbert
Mayor of Saint-Herblain
In office
14 March 1977  20 March 1989
Preceded by Michel Chauty
Succeeded by Charles Gautier
Member of the National Assembly
for Loire-Atlantique's 3rd constituency
In office
1 May 2014  12 March 2016
Preceded by Jean-Pierre Fougerat
Succeeded by Karine Daniel
In office
23 June 1988  20 July 2012
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Jean-Pierre Fougerat
In office
2 April 1986  23 June 1988
Preceded by Jean-Pierre Fougerat
Succeeded by Jean-Pierre Fougerat
Personal details
Born (1950-01-25) 25 January 1950
Maulévrier, France
Political party Socialist Party
Brigitte Terrien (m. 1971)
Children 2 daughters
Alma mater University of Nantes

Jean-Marc Ayrault (French: [ʒɑ̃maʁk eʁo]; born 25 January 1950[1]) is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 16 May 2012 to 31 March 2014.[2] He later was as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2016 to 2017. Previously Ayrault was the Mayor of Nantes from 1989 to 2012, and he led the Socialist Party group in the National Assembly from 1997 to 2012.

Early life

Born in Maulévrier in Maine-et-Loire,[1] Jean-Marc Ayrault is the son of Joseph Ayrault,[3] from Maulévrier, formerly an agricultural worker who was subsequently employed in a textile factory, and of Georgette Uzenot, a former seamstress who later became a full-time housewife.

His early schooling was at the St Joseph Catholic primary school in Maulévrier, after which, between 1961 and 1968, he attended the Lycée Colbert, in Cholet.[4] He subsequently studied German at Nantes University. In 1969/70 he spent a term at the University of Würzburg in Bavaria. He graduated with a degree in German in 1971 and in 1972 obtained his graduate teaching diploma. He stayed in the Nantes area for his probationary teaching year which was undertaken in Rezé. Between 1973 and his election to the National Assembly in 1986 he worked as a German language teacher in nearby Saint-Herblain.[5]

Political career

During his youth, Ayrault was a member of a movement of young Christians in rural areas. He joined the Socialist Party (PS) after the 1971 Epinay Congress during which François Mitterrand took the party leadership. Ayrault was affiliated to Jean Poperen's faction, one of the left-wing groups in the party. Elected in 1976 to the General Council of Loire-Atlantique département, he subsequently became Mayor of Saint-Herblain, located in the western suburbs of Nantes, in 1977. At 27, he was the youngest mayor of a French city of more than 30,000 inhabitants. He left the General Council in 1982.

He reached the PS national committee in 1979, then the executive of the party in 1981. He was first elected to the National Assembly in 1986, as representative of Loire Atlantique department, and he was consistently re-elected in subsequent elections. In 1989, he was chosen by the PS to conquer the mayoralty of Nantes, held by the Rally for the Republic (RPR) party, and he won. Re-elected in 1995, 2001 and 2008, he was also president of the Urban Community of Nantes Métropole since 2002. He was an important "local baron" of the Socialist Party.

After the surprising victory of the "Plural Left" in the 1997 legislative election, he was not appointed to the government but was instead designated as President of the Socialist parliamentary group in the National Assembly, a position he held for the next 15 years. Ayrault was a supporter of François Hollande during the Socialist Party's 2011 primary election to choose its presidential candidate. Hollande was ultimately elected President in the 2012 presidential election, and he appointed Ayrault as Prime Minister when he took office on 15 May 2012.

Prime Minister

Following François Hollande's victory in the 2012 presidential election, Ayrault was appointed Prime Minister of France replacing François Fillon. The following day, Ayrault unveiled his Cabinet. In response to the Greek government-debt crisis he asked the European Commission to put unused structural funds towards helping the Greek economy return to growth and said "We waited too long before helping Greece. This has been going on for two years now and only gets worse..."[6]

Ayrault's appointment to the country's head of government prompted discussion within Arabic language mass media as to how to pronounce his surname. When his name is pronounced properly in French, it sounds "very much like a moderately rude Lebanese [slang] term" for a phallus.[7] Al-Arabiya decided to pronounce the name properly and write its Arabic transliteration "in a way that makes clear it is not the offensive word"; CNN Arabic decided to pronounce Ayrault's surname by "voicing the last two letters in the written word."[7]

During his time in office, Ayrault and his ministers introduced a raft of progressive measures, including a reduction in the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some categories of workers, cuts in ministerial salaries of up to 30%,[8] a rise in the minimum wage, the introduction of a 36-month rent freeze on new contracts in some urban areas, an extension of social rebates on energy, increased educational support for low-income families,[9] the introduction of a system of subsidised employment for young people between 16 and 25,[10] and the extension of an entitlement to free health care to an additional 500,000 people.[11]

Ayrault announced his resignation on 31 March 2014, the day after the "Socialists suffered heavy losses in nationwide municipal elections",[12] and formally handed over to his successor Manuel Valls at the prime ministerial residence, the Hotel Matignon, on 1 April 2014.[2]

Minister of Foreign Affairs

As part of a 2016 cabinet reshuffle, Hollande appointed Ayrault as foreign minister, replacing Laurent Fabius.[13]

Under Ayrault's leadership, the French foreign ministry summoned Vincent Mertens de Wilmars, Belgium's ambassador in Paris, in September 2016 after detaining two Belgian police officers on French territory for allegedly depositing migrants across the countries' border.[14]

In September 2016, Ayrault took part in the formal signing ceremony for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, a controversial $24-billion Franco-Chinese investment project.[15]

Political resume

French Government

  • Prime Minister: 20122014.
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: 20162017

National Assembly

  • President of the Socialist Group in the National Assembly of France: 1997–2012. Re-elected in 2002 and 2007.
  • Member of the National Assembly of France for Loire-Atlantique (3rd constituency): 1986–2012 (appointed Prime Minister in 2012). Elected in 1986, re-elected in 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012.

General council

  • General councillor of Loire-Atlantique, elected in the canton of Saint-Herbain-Est: 1976–1982.

Community Council

  • Président of the Urban Community of Nantes Métropole: 1992–2012 (Resignation). Re-elected in 1995, 2001, and 2008.
  • Member of the Urban Community Council of Nantes Métropole: since 1992. Re-elected in 1995, 2001, and 2008.

Municipal Council

  • Mayor of Saint-Herblain: 1977–1989. Re-elected in 1983.
  • Municipal councillor of Saint-Herblain: 1977–1989. Re-elected in 1983.
  • Mayor of Nantes: 1989–2012 (Resignation). Re-elected in 1995, 2001, and 2008.
  • Municipal councillor of Nantes: Since 1989. Re-elected in 1995, 2001 and 2008.


Foreign honours

See also


  1. 1 2 Roger, Patrick (15 May 2012). "Jean-Marc Ayrault, le "réformiste décomplexé". Le Monde (in French).
  2. 1 2 "Remaniement: retour sur une journée de tractations". BFMTV.
  3. (Besson 2004, p. 54)
  4. "Jean-Marc Ayrault". le site de France Info (in French). Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  5. "Biographical note on the website for Nantes". Archived from the original on 15 June 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  6. Wearden, Graeme (22 March 2011). "Eurozone crisis live: Greek and Spanish fears hit markets again". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  7. 1 2 Shair, Kindah (18 May 2012). "New French PM's name causes Arab giggles". CNN. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  8. "hollande-tipped-majority-france-vote", Yahoo! News.
  9. "Policy Network – Publications".
  10. "Youth Employment developments: France". Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l'Europe.
  11. "La CMU pour 500.000 personnes de plus". Le Figaro.
  12. Craggs, Ryan, "French Prime Minister Resigns: Jean-Marc Ayrault Tenders Resignation", The Huffington Post, 31 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  13. Anne-Sylvaine Chassany (11 February 2016), Hollande attempts to rally the left with reshuffle Financial Times.
  14. Matthew Dalton and Gabriele Steinhauser (22 September 2016), France Summons Belgium’s Ambassador in Migrant Spat The Wall Street Journal.
  15. Kate Holton and Karolin Schaps (29 September 2016), UK signs long-awaited Franco-Chinese nuclear project behind closed doors Reuters
  16. Italian Presidency website, Sig. Jean-Marc Ayrault (Primo Ministro) – Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana
Party political offices
Preceded by
Laurent Fabius
Leader of the Socialist, Radical, Citizen and Miscellaneous Left
Succeeded by
Bruno Le Roux
Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Chauty
Mayor of Saint-Herblain
Succeeded by
Charles Gautier
Mayor of Nantes
Succeeded by
Patrick Rimbert
Preceded by
François Fillon
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Manuel Valls
Preceded by
Laurent Fabius
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Succeeded by
Jean-Yves Le Drian
as Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs
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