Bertrand Delanoë

Bertrand Delanoë
Mayor of Paris
In office
25 March 2001  5 April 2014
Preceded by Jean Tiberi
Succeeded by Anne Hidalgo
Senator for Paris
In office
24 September 1995  27 March 2001
Member of the French National Assembly
for Paris (26th constituency)
In office
21 June 1981  1 April 1986
Preceded by Joël Le Tac
Succeeded by Alain Juppé
Personal details
Born (1950-05-30) 30 May 1950
Tunis, Tunisia
Nationality French
Political party Socialist Party

Bertrand Delanoë (French: [bɛʁ.tʁɑ̃ də]; born 30 May 1950) is a French politician who was mayor of Paris from 25 March 2001 to 5 April 2014. He is a member of the Socialist Party (PS).[1]

Early life

Bertrand Delanoë was born 30 May 1950 in Tunis, at that time a protectorate of the French colonial empire, to a French mother and a French-Tunisian father. His father, a land surveyor, was atheist while his mother, a nurse, was Roman Catholic.[2]

At 6 years old, Delanoë became a member of the "Petits Chanteurs des Sables", a Christian choral group associated with the Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois.[3]

At the age of 11, Delanoë witnessed the Crisis of Bizerte between France and newly independent Tunisia.[4] Bertrand Delanoë moved back to France with his family at the beginning of the Tunisian independence.

After the military base was closed in 1963, Delanoë's family broke up. His mother came to live in Rodez (Aveyron) with her son. After leaving school, Delanoë is said to have started studies in law at the University of Toulouse. According to Who's Who in France he possesses a diploma in economics.[5]


Early political career

Delanoë has been involved in politics since the age of twenty-three as the secretary of the Socialist federation in Aveyron.

He was first elected to the Paris city council in 1977. In 1993, he became the head of the city's Socialist Party.

In 1995, he was elected to the French Senate, where he was secretary of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Mayor of Paris

Delanoë became mayor of Paris on 18 March 2001, when control of the city council was won by a left-wing alliance for the first time since 1977 (election of the city council with universal suffrage). His predecessors were Jean Tiberi (1995–2001), and Jacques Chirac (1977–95), who resigned after 18 years as mayor when he was elected president of the French Republic.

Delanoë won the mayorship of Paris, at the head of a coalition of Socialists, Greens and Communists, over the conservative candidates Jean Tiberi and Philippe Séguin, who were unable to resolve their differences and thereby split the conservative vote. This success in a city which has traditionally been a stronghold of the right was made all the more striking by setbacks to the Left in the 2001 elections that occurred more generally – has been partially attributed with the weariness of the Parisian public with respect to various scandals of corruption and graft in the preceding administrations (see corruption scandals in the Paris region).

Delanoë was virtually unknown before the election of 2001, but soon gained fame for organising new and unusual events in Paris, such as the "Paris Beach" (Paris-Plages) on the banks of the Seine every summer in order to give Parisians who could not take a regular vacation a chance to relax, sunbathe and build sandcastles in the center of Paris. The program, especially popular with families with children, has been in place since 2002, and has since been copied by many other international cities.

As mayor, Delanoë's goals were to improve the quality of life, reduce pollution, and cut down on vehicle traffic within the city (including a plan for a non-polluting tramway to ease Parisian traffic) and pedestrian malls. He helped introduce a program called Vélib' (a portmanteau of “vélo" and "libre” meaning "free bicycles") which gave Parisians access to inexpensive rental bicycles available in stations all around Paris. The program has been enormously successful despite the fact that it still has a few logistical problems to be worked out.[6] He has outlined a plan for an autolib, whereby small cars would be shared.[7] He was reelected in 2008 (57.7%) for a new six-year-term (2008–2014).

In 2009, he criticized statements by Pope Benedict XVI, which were of the effect that condom use was unhelpful or even counter-productive in the fight against AIDS.[8]

Assassination attempt

Delanoë was stabbed on 5 October 2002 during the Nuit Blanche, a night of festivities in Paris, while mingling with the public. His assailant was a Muslim immigrant, Azedine Berkane, who reportedly told police that "he hated politicians, the Socialist Party, and homosexuals." Speaking to Le Monde, one of his neighbors said, "He was a bit like us. We're all homophobic here because it's not natural." Before being taken to hospital, Delanoë ordered that the festivities continue. Delanoë's wound was not life-threatening and he left the hospital after about two weeks.[9][10]

Azedine Berkane was eventually permitted to leave the psychiatric hospital where he had been a patient after his doctors no longer considered him a threat. However, in early April, 2007, he failed to keep a scheduled appointment with his doctors, and has not been seen since.[11]

Olympic bid

The failure to secure the 2012 Summer Olympics for Paris on 6 July 2005 was Delanoë's first major setback as mayor. In the aftermath of the defeat in his Olympic bid, he accused British prime minister Tony Blair of unduly influencing the result in order to secure the games in London. However, Delanoë's popularity in fact rose during July 2005.[12] The French public appeared to have laid more of the blame on President Jacques Chirac, who allegedly said that "the only worse food than British food is Finnish" which is widely believed to have offended two Finnish members of the International Olympic Committee.

Potential presidential bid

Delanoë was said to be considering challenging then-current president Sarkozy in the Presidential election in 2012. However, this plan suffered a setback in November 2008 when he lost the race for the party leadership to Lille mayor Martine Aubry.[7]

Fake New York Times letter

On 22 December 2008, The New York Times published a letter attributed to Delanoë criticizing Caroline Kennedy's candidacy for the United States Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. The newspaper later admitted that the letter, which had been sent by email, had not been properly verified, and was a fake.[13]

Personal life

Delanoë was one of the first major French politicians to announce that he was gay, during a 1998 television interview (before being elected mayor).[14][15] Although a long-time politician, Delanoë is visible at cultural affairs. He attends film festivals, and he is sometimes quoted in the media or appears on television to speak about his friendship with the late French superstar entertainer, Dalida.

Political career

Electoral mandates

National Assembly of France

Member of the National Assembly of France for Paris (26th constituency): 1981–1986. Elected in 1981.

Senate of France

Senator of Paris: 1995–2001 (resignation).

Municipal Council

Mayor of Paris: Since 2001. Reelected in 2008.

Councillor of Paris: Since 1977. Reelected in 1983, 1989, 1995, 2001, 2008.

See also


  1. Burke, Jason (6 January 2008). "Definitively a mayor à la mode". The Observer. London. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  2. "Bertrand Delanoë, descendant de rescapés", Le Parisien, 15 March 2008.
  3. fr:Manécanterie des Petits Chanteurs à la croix de bois Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois.
  4. Delanoë les métamorphoses d'un amoureux de Paris – Le Nouvel Observateur No 1889.
  5. Faits & Documents n°106 – Lettre d'informations confidentielles d'Emmanuel Ratier.
  6. Vélib'information in English.
  7. 1 2 Burke, Jason (6 January 2008). "Definitively a mayor à la mode". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  8. Canadian Press article Archived 22 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Rapp, Linda (13 August 2007). "Delanoë, Bertrand".
  10. Steyn, Mark (2006). America Alone. pp. 120–121.
  11. "L'agresseur de Bertrand Delanoë a disparu, 7 April 2007". Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  12. Sondage : Delanoë au top, Villepin galope (Survey: Delanoë on top, Villepin galloping), TF1, 21 July 2005 (French).
  13. "Editors' Note". The New York Times. 22 December 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  14. City Mayors: Bertrand Delanoe – Mayor of Paris
  15. "Psychiatric tests for anti-gay attacker". BBC News. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 26 April 2010.

External links

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Political offices
Preceded by
Jean Tiberi
Mayor of Paris
Succeeded by
Anne Hidalgo
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