Patrick DevedjianTuesday, April 20, 2021
Patrick Devedjian (26 August 1944 – 28 March 2020) was a French politician of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party.
A close adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy since the 1990s, he was Minister under the Prime Minister in charge of the Implementation of the Recovery Plan, a special ministerial post created for two years following the global financial crisis of 2008, a tenure which commenced in December 2008. He was of Armenian descent. In the night of 28 to 29 March 2020, he died of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Devedjian was born in Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne. He was the grandson of the Armenian zoologist and Ottoman bureaucrat Karekin Deveciyan. His father was born in Sivas, Ottoman Empire and arrived in France after the First World War. Devedjian received his early education in an Armenian school in Sèvres. He continued his education at the Panthéon-Assas University. He joined the far-right group Occident in 1963, at the age of 17. In a 2014 interview, he stated he regretted his past membership in the organization, and that he had "never condoned any crime". He was admitted to the Paris Bar in 1970. He became a militant in the Gaullist movement in 1971 and took part in the foundation of the Rally for the Republic (RPR) party in 1976.
In 1983, Devedjian was elected Mayor of Antony, a position he would hold until 2002 with re-elections in 1989, 1995 and 2001. In 1986, he also became a Deputy in the National Assembly from the Hauts-de-Seine department and was re-elected six times in 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012. He was a member of the Assembly Committee on Finance and was rapporteur of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Committee.
In 1992, he was one of the few members of the RPR who voted to support the Maastricht Treaty. During the 1995 presidential campaign, he supported Édouard Balladur together with Nicolas Sarkozy, and suffered unpopularity with the RPR after Balladur's defeat against Jacques Chirac. He became a close adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy and came back into favour during the presidential campaign of 2002.
After Jacques Chirac’s reelection in 2002, Nicolas Sarkozy, who became Minister of the Interior and de facto Number 2 of Jean-Pierre Raffarin's government, chose Patrick Devedjian to be his Deputy Minister for Local Liberties, in charge of local government. As President Chirac had requested that ministers did not carry local executive powers, Devedjian resigned as Mayor of Antony and was succeeded by Raymond Sibille. He was also replaced in Parliament by his substitute Georges Siffredi.
When Nicolas Sarkozy became Minister of the Economy and Finance in 2004, Patrick Devedjian followed him as Deputy Minister for Industry.
In June 2005, new Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin did not include Patrick Devedjian in his government. As a result, Georges Siffredi resigned from Parliament in October in order for Devedjian to be reelected in the Hauts-de-Seine 13th constituency.
Devedjian proposed an amendment to a proposed bill penalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide on 9 October 2006 that read, "These regulations do not apply to academic and scientific researches and studies." Devedjian added a statement to the amendment that according to media would "prevent any provocations and political demonstrations organized by a foreign country."
When Nicolas Sarkozy resigned from Government and became President of the Union for a Popular Movement party, Patrick Devedjian became his political advisor.
After the 2007 presidential election and Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as President of the Republic, tensions appeared between Sarkozy and Devedjian, who had wished and been predicted to become Minister of Justice. Instead, Sarkozy chose Rachida Dati, the first woman of Northern African ancestry to hold a Ministry in France. Devedjian was not included in François Fillon’s government. On that occasion, Devedjian bitterly remarked: "I am in favour of a government open to a wide range of people—even to Sarkozists." The joke earned him the 2007 Prize for Political Humour.
Instead, Devedjian took the presidency of the Hauts-de-Seine General Council on 1 June, becoming head of the richest département in France. He was also named Deputy Secretary-General of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), replacing Brice Hortefeux, then Secretary-General on 25 September, sharing the party leadership with First Vice President Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
After the 2007 legislative elections, Télé Lyon Métropole (TLM) filmed a conversation during which a UMP Deputy of Bouches-du-Rhône introduced new MP Michel Havard to Patrick Devedjian, saying that Havard had beaten Democratic Movement candidate Anne-Marie Comparini. Devedjian congratulated Havard and then added "… cette salope !" ("… that bitch!") about Comparini. That evening, Devedjian apologized in private, then issued a press release deploring the broadcast of "stolen images of a private conversation". He said he regretted his "inappropriate exclamation about Mrs. Anne-Marie Comparini" and said, "he sent her his regards and esteem". He apologized again in public at a press conference the next day, but it was too late to forestall a storm of criticism. The president of TLM said that Devedjian had asked for the interview not to be broadcast "but Mr. Devedjian knew he was being filmed".