François Bayrou

François Bayrou
Mayor of Pau
Assumed office
4 April 2014
Preceded by Martine Lignières-Cassou
Leader of the Democratic Movement
Assumed office
2 December 2007
Preceded by Position established
Leader of the Union for French Democracy
In office
25 February 1998  30 November 2007
Preceded by François Léotard
Succeeded by Position abolished
Minister of National Education
In office
29 March 1993  4 June 1997
Prime Minister Édouard Balladur
Alain Juppé
Preceded by Jack Lang
Succeeded by Claude Allègre
Personal details
Born (1951-05-25) 25 May 1951
Bordères, France
Political party Union for French Democracy (Before 2007)
Democratic Movement (2007–present)
Alma mater University of Bordeaux
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Official website

François Bayrou (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃swa bajʁu]) is a French centrist politician and the president of the Democratic Movement, who was a candidate in the 2002, 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections.

Early life

François Bayrou was born on 25 May 1951, in Bordères, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, a village located between Pau and Lourdes. He is the oldest son of farmers Calixte Bayrou and Emma Sarthou. He first went to secondary school in Pau, then he transferred to Bordeaux.

François Bayrou has six children from his marriage (his wife Élisabeth "Babette" was 19 years old at the time of marriage). The family still lives on the farm in Bayrou's birthplace. Bayrou studied literature at university, and at the age of 23, sat the "agrégation", the highest qualifying level for teachers in senior high schools and universities in France. His father was killed in a tractor accident at that time.

Prior to embarking on his political career, Bayrou taught history in Béarn in the French Pyrenees.[1] He is the author of over a dozen books on politics and history, including one on King Henry IV of France. François Bayrou's hobby is raising horses. A practising Roman Catholic, he is nonetheless a fervent supporter of France's system of laïcité.

Political career

First steps in politics : 1982-2002

Bayrou, a member of the Centre of Social Democrats (CDS), the Christian Democratic component of the Union for French Democracy (UDF) confederation, was elected in the General Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in 1982, then in the French National Assembly four years later. After the victory of the RPR/UDF coalition in the 1993 legislative election, he became Education Minister in the cabinet led by Edouard Balladur. In this post, he proposed a reform allowing local authorities to subsidise private schools. This caused massive protests and was quashed by the Constitutional Council.

Despite supporting Édouard Balladur's candidacy in the 1995 presidential election, Bayrou remained Education Minister following Jacques Chirac's election and the creation of a new government headed by Alain Juppé. Following the change of majority in the "Plural Left in the 1997 legislative election he returned in opposition and conquered the presidency of the UDF in 1998, after which he turned it into a unified party rather than a union of smaller parties.

Hegemony on the French center : 2002-2007

In 2002 François Bayrou rejected the call to merge the UDF party over which he presided into a new entity with the Rally for the Republic (RPR) that would subsequently be named the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). As a consequence, many members of the UDF left for the UMP, while the remainder stayed with Bayrou inside the UDF.

François Bayrou has been increasingly critical of the course taken by the UMP-led government, which he deems to be out of touch with the average Frenchman. He denounces the de facto two-party system, in which the Socialist Party and the RPR (later UMP) have alternated. When in the majority the parliamentarians of both of these parties vote, nearly without question, for the laws proposed by the executive. Instead François Bayrou advocates a system where other voices can be heard.[2]

On 16 May 2006, François Bayrou voted for a motion of no confidence sponsored by Socialist deputies calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's government following the Clearstream affair.[3] (As de Villepin's UMP had an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the motion failed.) Following Bayrou's support for this measure, France's television authority classified him as a member of the parliamentary opposition for timing purposes; however, after Bayrou protested, he was classified as a member of neither the majority nor the opposition.

Second presidential campaign : 2007

In 2007, Bayrou contested the presidency once again. The possibility of a Bayrou presidency took the French establishment by surprise. It had been expecting the battle to be fought primarily between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal of the Parti Socialiste, both very personable and media-friendly. The rise of Bayrou's poll numbers in February, however, complicated this "Sarko-Ségo" scenario, and raised the distinct possibility that the Parti Socialiste candidate would be excluded from the second round for a second straight election cycle, following the humiliating defeat of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 2002 at the hands of right wing nationalist Jean Marie Le Pen. Ultimately, Bayrou was unsuccessful in his attempt to make it into the second round of the election, but he won 18.57% of the vote (6,820,119 votes) and came in a clear third behind the front-runners Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP party and Royal of the Parti Socialiste. This was the best performance by the UDF in a Presidential election since 1981. Following the first round, Bayrou declared that he could not endorse either Sarkozy or Royal in the second round, although he did indicate that Sarkozy was the worse of the two choices on offer.

Foundation of the Democratic Movement : 2007-2012

Following his loss, Bayrou announced his intention of forming a new centrist party, the Democratic Movement (MoDem). Only a handful of UDF politicians followed Bayrou; the majority opposed him and set up a rival party the New Centre party which pledged to support the alliance with the UMP. Most of the UDF's grassroots membership however, have remained with Bayrou. The MoDem was formed only weeks before the June 2007 French legislative elections, which followed the presidential election, but managed to capture 7.6% of the vote (the third highest). Despite this satisfactory result, which was higher than the UDF share of the poll of 4.9% in the 2002 elections, Bayrou's party managed to win only four seats, one of which was Bayrou's own seat. This was largely due to the French two-round electoral system which favors the two largest parties. The other parliamentarians elected on the party's list were Jean Lasalle, Thierry Benoit (who since then has left the party, to join the New Centre) and Abdoulatifou Aly. The creation of the MoDem led to the formal dismantling of the UDF alliance on 30 November.

Third presidential election : 2012

François Bayrou at a meeting in Marseille

18 August 2011, Bayrou released his new book "2012. Etat d'urgence" in which he describes how and why the current economic crisis happened, and sketches the high-level priorities of his future presidential program: production and education.

Francois Bayrou confirmed his candidacy to the 2012 presidential election by answering with an assertive « yes » the question asked by the journalist Laurence Ferrari on her show Parole Directe (TF1) on 25 November 2011: "have you decided to be candidate in 2012".[4]

His supporters included :

Bayrou was eliminated in the first round of the presidential election in 2012, receiving only about half of the vote share that he won in 2007. Before the second round he announced that he would be voting for Francois Hollande.[9]

Political views

François Bayrou in Strasbourg in 2007

François Bayrou has taken a strong stand on a variety of issues, including efforts to safeguard the credibility of the political process, personal freedom, and free software (see DADVSI). As French Presidential candidate he has described the EU as "the most beautiful construction of all humanity" (WSJ, 23 February 2007). He declared himself in favor of France taking a greater role in the European Union's affairs. He supports the ratification of a European Constitution in a more concise and readable form than the one voted down by the French electorate in 2005.[10]

When interviewed for a New York Times profile,[11] Bayrou described himself, saying: "I am a democrat, I am a Clintonian, I am a man of the 'third way'." He positioned himself as a centrist, although he has historic ties to the right. His platform promotes job creation, improvement of educational standards, improved conditions in the troubled suburbs, reduced government spending, a balanced budget and a stronger European Union, with France as its de facto leader. He has also criticized China's protection of the Sudanese government against UN Security Council sanctions. In contrast to Sarkozy, Bayrou was highly critical of the American economic model under George Bush and of the unregulated free market in general. His criticism was that the United States had a "survival of the fittest" system where it was often stated that money was people's only motivation, where higher education was too expensive, and where the middle class was shrinking.[11] Bayrou criticized the Iraq war, saying it was "the cause of chaos" in the region.[11]

François Bayrou in 2009

He criticized the foreign policy of Nicolas Sarkozy, for inviting the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi on a week-long state visit to France and signing military cooperation agreements with Libya.

In 2009, he criticized statements of Pope Benedict XVI which claimed that condoms promote AIDS. Bayrou called the remarks "unacceptable," adding that "the primary responsibility, particularly of Christians, is the defense of life...This is a continent in which tens of millions of women and men are dying."[12]

He called for France to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics, due to the poor human rights records in China and 2008 Tibetan unrest. During a rally in Paris on 21 March he declared: "If this drama does not stop, France would do itself credit by not coming to the Olympic Games", criticising China's opposition to sanctions against Sudan over its involvement in the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. France has never boycotted any Olympics so far.[13]

Governmental functions

Minister of National Education: 1993–1995.

Minister of National Education, Higher education and Research: 1995–1997.

Electoral mandates

European Parliament

Member of European Parliament: 1999–2002 (Reelected member in the National Assembly of France in 2002)

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques' 2nd constituency: 1986–1993 (Became minister in 1993) / 1997–1999 (Became member of European Parliament in 1999) / 2002–2012. Elected in 1986, reelected in 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007. He lost his seat on 17 June 2012.

General Council

President of the General Council of Pyrénées-Atlantiques: 1992–2001. Reelected in 1994, 1998.

General councillor of Pyrénées-Atlantiques: 1982–2008. Reelected in 1988, 1994, 2001.

Municipal Council

Mayor of Pau : since April 2014.

Municipal councillor of Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques: 1983–1993 (Resignation) / Since 2008. Reelected in 1989, 2008, 2014.

Political functions

President of the Union for French Democracy: 1998–2007.

President of the Democratic Movement (France): Since 2007.


  1. Kramer, Jane. "Round One", The New Yorker, 23 April 2007.
  2. "Site officiel du Mouvement Démocrate - MoDem". Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  3. "ANALYSE DU SCRUTIN N° 978 - Séance du 16 mai 2006". Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  4. "Parole Directe-Bayrou annonce sa candidature pour la présidentielle 2012". 25 November 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  5. "Arthuis: "Un seul candidat pour la famille centriste!"". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  6. "Bernard Bosson annonce son soutien au candidat Bayrou pour la Présidentielle". 30 June 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  7. "Idrac : "Bayrou est le centriste authentique"". 17 September 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  8. "Jean-François Kahn soutiendra à nouveau Bayrou à la présidentielle". 4 December 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  9. "France - Centrist Bayrou's tactical game in supporting Hollande". France 24. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  10. "François Bayrou: "L'Europe, c'est pas fait pour être mini"". Euronews.
  11. 1 2 3 Sciolino, Elaine. "A 'Neither/Nor' Candidate for President Alters the French Political Landscape", New York Times (8 March 2007)
  12. "Le Parisien article". 19 March 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  13. "Reuters AlertNet - Call for Olympic boycott stirs up pre-poll France". 22 March 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2010.


Bayrou is the sole author unless other names are mentioned.

  • La Décennie des mal-appris. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1990. ISBN 2-08-066472-7. , subject(s): Enseignement—Réforme—France—1970-, Éducation et État—France—1970-.
  • Le roi libre. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1994. ISBN 2-08-066821-8.  le Grand livre du mois 1994, subject(s): Henri IV (roi de France ; 1553–1610) -- Biographies, France—1589-1610 (Henri IV).
  • Le roi libre. Paris: France loisirs. 1995. ISBN 2-7242-8944-7. 
  • Letamendia, Pierre (1995). Le Mouvement républicain populaire : le MRP : histoire d'un grand parti français. Paris: Beauchesne. ISBN 2-7010-1327-5. , preface by François Bayrou.
  • Le droit au sens. Paris: Flammarion. 1996. ISBN 2-08-067204-5. , le Grand livre du mois 1996, subject(s): Politique et éducation—France—1990-, France—Conditions sociales—1981-.
  • Gelly, Violaine (1996). François Bayrou : portrait. [Étrépilly]: Bartillat. ISBN 2-84100-048-6. 
  • Le roi libre. Paris: Éd. J'ai lu. 1996. ISBN 2-277-24183-0. , series: J'ai lu 4183.
  • Michelland, Antoine; Séguy, Philippe (1996). François Bayrou : "et si la Providence veut". Monaco ; [Paris]: Éd. du Rocher. ISBN 2-268-02400-8. 
  • France. Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (1995-1997) (c. 1996). Les États généraux de l'Université. Paris: ONISEP. , preface by François Bayrou.
  • France. Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (1995-1997) (1996). Les États généraux de l'Université : intervention de François Bayrou, ministre de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, Grand amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne, 18 juin 1996. [Paris]: [Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche]. 
  • Saint-louis. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1997. ISBN 2-08-067208-8. 
  • Henri IV. [Paris]: Perrin jeunesse. 1998. ISBN 2-262-01301-2. , subject(s): Henri IV (roi de France ; 1553–1610 ) -- Ouvrages pour la jeunesse.
  • Ils portaient l'écharpe blanche : l'aventure des premiers réformés, des Guerres de religion à l'édit de Nantes, de la Révocation à la Révolution. Paris: B. Grasset. 1998. ISBN 2-246-55981-2. 
  • Henri IV : le roi libre. [Paris]: Flammarion. ISBN 2-08-067725-X. , le Grand livre du mois 1999.
  • Bayrou, François; Pierre-Brossolette, Sylvie (1999). Hors des sentiers battus : entretiens avec Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette. Paris: Hachette littératures. ISBN 2-01-235258-8. 
  • Ils portaient l'écharpe blanche : l'aventure des premiers réformés, des Guerres de religion à l'édit de Nantes, de la Révocation à la Révolution. Paris: Librairie générale française. 2000. ISBN 2-253-14779-6. , series: Le livre de poche 14779.
  • Chaline, Nadine-Josette (2000). Jean Lecanuet. Paris: Beauchesne. ISBN 2-7010-1405-0. , "témoignages de François Bayrou et de Dominique Baudis", series: Politiques & chrétiens 16.
  • François Bayrou, Qui êtes-vous ? Que proposez-vous ?. [Paris]: Archipel. 2001. ISBN 2-84187-283-1. , series: L'Info. Citoyenne.
  • Relève. [Paris]: Grasset. 2001. ISBN 2-246-61821-5. 
  • Oui : Plaidoyer pour la Constitution européenne. [Paris]: Plon. 2005. ISBN 2-259-20183-0. 
  • Au nom du Tiers-État. [Paris]: Hachette. October 2006. ISBN 2-01-237250-3. 
  • Projet d'Espoir. [Paris]: Plon. March 2007. ISBN 2-259-20162-8. 
  • Abus de pouvoir, [Paris] Plon, 2009 ISBN 978-2-259-20876-5
  • 2012, Etat d'urgence, [Paris] Plon, 2011 ISBN 978-2-259-21661-6
Wikimedia Commons has media related to François Bayrou.
Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Lang
Minister of National Education
Succeeded by
Claude Allègre
Party political offices
Preceded by
François Léotard
Leader of the Union for French Democracy
Position abolished
New office Leader of the Democratic Movement
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