Marie-France Garaud, former advisor to Georges Pompidou and Jacques Chirac, is dead


Marie-France Garaud, candidate for the presidential election, speaks during a visit to the Press Club, in Rennes, in December 1980. JEAN PIERRE PREVEL / AFP

“Brogues in petticoats” for some, “Father Joseph in the feminine” for others, or even “Cruella” for the most severe, she was an influential politician who played this role with Georges Pompidou and Jacques Chirac. Marie-France Garaud died on Wednesday May 22, at the age of 90, her son announced the next day to Agence France-Presse.

Born March 6, 1934 in Poitiers, daughter of a lawyer, general councilor, Marie-France Quintard obtained a higher studies diploma in private law, public law and history of law at the faculty of Poitiers. It was in this city that she became a lawyer (1954-1957). In 1959, she married Louis Garaud, himself a lawyer, with whom she had two sons. After a stint at the Ministry of the Navy, her former law professor, Jean Foyer, brought her to his office at the Ministry of Cooperation (1961-1962), then that of Justice (1962-1967). In April 1967, Pierre Juillet (1921-1999), political advisor to Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, recruited her as a mission manager. The duo (quickly formidable) was formed and Marie-France Garaud began her political flight.

“Warrior Valkyrie”

His first task is to bring the centrists back into the majority. Elected president, Georges Pompidou made her a technical advisor to the general secretariat of the presidency. With Pierre Juillet, Marie-France Garaud shares both the office and an absolute passion for France. Preferring to remain in the shadows, Juillet sent “Marie-la-France”, as journalists nicknamed her, to the fire. In his book Free men (Plon, 1973), Arthur Conte paints an endearing portrait: a “beautiful dark-haired woman, round, very white face, impala-like eyes, small mouth, speaking quickly and melodiously. She breathes warm friendship”. But it is also a “Warriorous Valkyrie, fierce in battle”.

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Familiar with castles, hunting and shooting, frequenting antique dealers and great fashion designers, this farmer with an elegant bun – who produces nuts and raises sheep in Poitou – loves intrigue. Uncompromising, easily brittle, she was a pioneer in the role of female politicians. In 1973, Newsweek describes it as “ the most powerful woman of France ».

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When Pompidou died, it was the interim President of the Republic, the centrist Alain Poher, who appointed her, on May 4, 1974, referendum advisor to the Court of Auditors. With July, Marie-France Garaud set her sights on Jacques Chirac, whom she pushed to abandon the Gaullist Jacques Chaban-Delmas to support the candidacy for the Elysée of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Her ” little chick “ became prime minister, she refuses to be his chief of staff – “I didn’t want to be harnessed like a horse” – but it is at the origin of many blows: the earthquake of 1976 when Chirac slammed the door of Matignon, the founding of the RPR, the storming of Paris Town Hall and, in December 1978, “the appeal of Cochin”, violent anti-European indictment that the tandem made the mayor of the capital, hospitalized after a car accident, sign.

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