Environment Minister Batho Fired, Hollande Criticized

Delphine Batho. Photo: David Monniaux for WIkimedia Commons

Delphine Batho. Photo: David Monniaux for WIkimedia Commons

French President Francois Hollande promptly fired Delphine Batho, a member of the Parti socialiste (PS) and now-former Environment Minister of France, after she voiced her displeasure on RTL Radio with the “bad” proposed 7% cut to the energy and environment ministry.

“Of course there will be…budget tightening,” Batho noted, “but there are also other ways of proceeding, like environmental taxes or forward-looking investments.”

She is the first government minister to be fired for disagreeing with the government’s policymaking.

It has been rumored that the strained relations between Batho and Christiane Taubira, the Ayrault government’s Senior Minister for Justice, may have contributed to Bathos’s discharge.

According to an anonymous NGO source, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was enraged at Batho for never stating her objections to the budget cuts before Tuesday, July 2. Furthermore, Hollande had also requested that Batho retract her statements regarding the cut to her department for the sake of maintaining a unified front to the French people.

Hollande’s approval ratings have slipped in recent months amongst persistent unemployment and sluggish growth; firing Batho appeared a definitive assertion of his authority over the French economy’s failure to regain momentum.

Bathos’s removal is one of the first in Hollande’s steps to reduce government spending and retain the appearance of “coherence” in government policymaking. Taking the initiative to fire Batho sends a clear message that solidarity within the government comes first, even at the expense of concerned dissent.

Bathos’s firing is also one of the President’s indirect but proactive measures towards cutting long-term spending — he plans to cut the deficit to 3.9% of the total GDP by the end of the year, 3.5% in 2014, and 2.8% in 2015. While his rhetoric so far has stressed tax raises, Hollande has conceded on several occasions the need for drastic spending cuts.

Soon after Batho’s discharge on Tuesday, leading French environmentalists — including Minister of Housing Cecil Duflot and Minister of Development Pascal Canfin — gathered to voice their anger at the proceedings.

Global environmental groups are dubbing Batho’s dismissal unfair, uncalled for, and even “brutal” on Hollande’s part. Greenpeace released a statement shortly after Batho’s release, observing that Hollande’s decision is representative of the “collateral damage of the complete absence of environmental ambition of the government and president.”

However, government officials assure the populace that climate change remains a priority. “We worked with #delphinebatho on the 2015 global #climate conference, and we continue to do so with her successor,” tweeted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on July 2, hours after news broke of Batho’s release. This successor assuming Batho’s place is Socialist lawmaker Philippe Martin.

Batho’s release occurs at a time in French politics rife with debate regarding global warming and energy sustainability, much of which had been spearheaded by Batho herself. For instance, Batho was unquestionably the most outspoken political critic against hydraulic fracturing for energy, a liquid pressurizing technique that often results in enormous natural disasters, such as earthquakes, countryside damage, and water pollution. It was consequently banned in 2011, under pressure from Batho, during former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration.

In retaliation to these measures, French business lobbyists have striven in recent months to lift the ban in order to make France less dependent on foreign fuel and create more jobs.

The French media had surmised that Hollande would be instigating changes in his cabinet over the next year, especially after a number of communication gaffes and following former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac’s resignation over his secret Swiss bank account. The Batho removal proves these speculations correct.

Batho left the ministry after her dismissal accompanied by her chief of staff.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Batho, the former French Environment Minster who was dismissed following her criticism of President Hollande, stated in a press conference that the primary reason for her ousting was her fierce support of the […]

  2. […] President Francois Hollande promptly fired Delphine Batho, a member of the Parti socialiste (PS) and now-fo…, after she voiced her displeasure on RTL Radio with the “bad” proposed 7% cut to the energy and […]

  3. […] even two weeks after the dismissal of Delphine Batho, now former minister of the Environment, and the announcement of an 12 billion […]

  4. […] relationship with the Greens was damaged early this July, when he sacked Environment Minister Delphine Batho. Hollande dismissed her after she publicly criticized his budgetary policy, in a move meant to warn […]

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