Edith Cresson

(b. 1934)

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(b. 27 Jan. 1934).

French Prime Minister 1991–2 The daughter of a finance inspector and wife of a high‐ranking executive, she was an organizer of the youth in the Socialist Party (1974–9) and a member of the Agricultural Commission of the European Parliament (1979–81), before joining all Socialist Cabinets of the 1980s, with responsibility for agriculture (1981–3), trade (1983–4), industry (1984–6), and European affairs (1988–90). Her appointment as the first woman Prime Minister of France was applauded as a radical step, but she soon became extremly unpopular, partly because of her stringent economic policies, and partly for her tactless outbursts, e.g. against the English (as singularly prone to homosexuality) and the Japanese (describing them as ‘ants’). In charge of the portfolio for Science, Research and Development in the European Union from 1995, she was one of the members of the European Commission accused of corruption and nepotism. She appointed personal friends to public positions, such as hiring her dentist as a co‐ordinator of EU AIDS research programmes. This became a public scandal, and ultimately led to the resignation of the entire Commission in 1999.

Subjects: History — Politics.

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