Death of Jean-Claude Gaudin, a baby from Marseille who grew to become a political “monument” | EUROtoday

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Son of a mason and a employee, Jean-Claude Gaudin died on the age of 84. He grew to become senator, minister and, above all, mayor of France's second metropolis for 25 years, Marseille.

“Jean-Claude Gaudin is no more. He was Marseille made man. From his city, his passion, he had the accent, the fever, the fraternity. For her, this child from Mazargues had risen to the highest positions of the Republic that he served, I am thinking of his loved ones and the people of Marseillais”, wrote, Monday May 20, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron on the social community

The slender boy with child cheeks who joined the municipal council on the age of 25 had turn out to be a large octogenarian with a hunched again, however his voice nonetheless carried simply as loudly when he misplaced his mood.

It is “one of the last monuments of French politics”, greeted the chief of the socialist opposition within the municipal council, Benoît Payan, who nonetheless “fiercely opposed him” and whose left-wing coalition had put finish in 2020 to the 25 years of energy of the precise in Marseille.

His anger remained legendary, just like the well-known “take care of your children!” launched through the begin of the varsity 12 months to folks livid that the city corridor had not deliberate something to welcome college students after courses.

He was “made” from “beatings, violence, the horrors of politics”, analyzed Benoît Payan a number of years in the past to AFP, evoking “the story of a man who is done by itself.

The desire to serve

He was born on October 8, 1939 in Mazargues, a village district in the south of Marseille, to a mason father and a mother who worked in a rope factory.

Their only wealth: a cabin in a cove. A childhood marked by the Catholic religion which “meant that the will to serve has at all times tormented me”, he confides to AFP. One of his final public appearances dates from the go to of Pope Francis to Marseille in September 2023.

Her political vocation arose in 1956, throughout a gathering of Germaine Poinso-Chapuis, a feminist resistance fighter who grew to become Minister for Liberation, on a sq. in Mazargues.

“I was captivated: she was dressed in black with a pearl necklace, she was haranguing the crowd,” he described to AFP. “When I got home, I told my dad, ‘I want to do that!’”

Jacques Chirac, at the time mayor of Paris and president of the RPR, and Jean-Claude Gaudin, deputy for Bouches-du-Rhône and president of the UDF, on December 7, 1983, in Cahors
Jacques Chirac, on the time mayor of Paris and president of the RPR, and Jean-Claude Gaudin, deputy for Bouches-du-Rhône and president of the UDF, on December 7, 1983, in Cahors © Jean-Pierre Muller, AFP/Archives

Professor of historical past and geography in a personal faculty, he’s near the Christian proper. At the age of 25, he entered the municipal council on a left-center-right alliance listing led by Gaston Defferre (mayor from 1953 to 1986). “It’s the most important day of my political life,” he says.

A pact with the far proper

Having turn out to be a deputy, he stood out through the municipal elections of 1983, supporting the Gaullist Jean Hieaux, candidate in Dreux (Eure-et-Loire) on the head of the primary RPR-National Front listing of France. “We must beat the socialist-communist adversary,” he justifies.

The beginnings of a “pact” with the far proper, whose votes would enable him, three years later, to win the presidency of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Council. A co-management that “works”, he assured in 1990, asking “that we stop [lui] have a hard time with that.”

In 1995, after two consecutive failures, Jean-Claude Gaudin grew to become the forty second mayor of Marseille, the function of his life.

“Anyone who has not crossed Marseille in Jean-Claude Gaudin's car, windows down, hearing passers-by say 'Hello Mr. Mayor!', has not known the link between a mayor and his city, this carnal link , visceral”, says the President of the Senate Gérard Larcher.

Jean-Claude Gaudin, March 25, 2014, in Marseille
Jean-Claude Gaudin, March 25, 2014, in Marseille © Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP/Archives

Minister of the City (1995-1997), 5 occasions vice-president of the Senate, the person retains Marseille at his coronary heart.

Today, he praises his “great achievements”: “a brand new Vélodrome stadium, the tunnels and the Mucem (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations)”, however above all of the drop in unemployment, from 22% to its arrival at 11% at this time, its “greatest success”.

“Gaudin, assassin!”

Its opponents draw up a much less rosy evaluation: inadequate public transport community, metropolis among the many most polluted in France, uncared for working-class neighborhoods, “dilapidated” colleges.

At the tip of 2019, the Regional Chamber of Accounts overwhelms its administration, from actual property to personnel. Already weakened by an investigation into the working hours of his brokers, the mayor castigates “the most stigmatizing, imperfect, unfair and unfounded pamphlet”.

But the true turning level got here a 12 months earlier, on November 5, 2018. Two buildings in a working-class neighborhood – certainly one of which is owned by the City – collapsed. Eight folks died buried.

The shock wave reveals the extent of unsanitary housing. The associations accuse the city corridor of getting ignored the alerts. Thousands of persons are evacuated from houses declared in “imminent danger”.

“It haunts me every day, in 24 years I have never experienced such a tragedy,” assures Jean-Claude Gaudin. An admission that doesn’t calm the anger: in entrance of the city corridor, demonstrators screamed for weeks “Gaudin, assassin!”

With AFP