Yet he had been warned. When, during a tête-à-tête preceding the announcement of the Borne government, he told him that he was staying in Beauvau and obtained, as he wished, the local authorities under his supervision, Emmanuel Macron gave a roadmap detailed to Gérald Darmanin. If he asks him to invest himself extensively in the immigration file, he gives him a common thread for the coming months, at the same time as a deadline: preparing France to host the Olympic Games at the summer 2024.
The file is complex as it involves risks: from terrorism with the risk of attacks, including by drone, to cyberattacks (there were billions of them during the Tokyo Olympics), passing, well, by the public order, this is an opportunity to substantially transform and modernize the Ministry of the Interior. The orientation and programming law of the Ministry of the Interior will even be supplemented, in particular by integrating technological developments. A deadline: 2024 is an appointment for the image of France – some 13 million people are expected – at the same time as the hemistich of this five-year term. The political cards will then be reshuffled, no doubt. A good hearer, hello, this is a statement that Darmanin understands perfectly. Two weeks later, the Champions League will make him miss his first test of the Macron II era. Within the government, number 3, one of the few pillars, is wavering.
“Thousands of British “supporters”, without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and, sometimes, assaulted the stewards. Thank you to the very many police forces mobilized this evening in this difficult context.” It was with this tweet, posted at 11:45 p.m. Saturday evening, that the debate escalated. We see Gérald Darmanin alongside the Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, following the crowds at the gates of the Stade in France from the security PC. Those responsible are already designated with aplomb by one and the other: the fans of Liverpool. Point. Move along, there is nothing left to see.
In any case, for the Minister of the Interior. The next day, back to normal life. Sunday morning, here he is in the Hauts-de-Seine to support the campaign of the spokesperson for La République en Marche Maud Bregeon. Sunday afternoon, here he is at home, in Tourcoing, in the changing rooms of the football club of the city of which he was the mayor to support, in sweatshirts, the players of the Tourquennoise sports union. If it seemed important to display on social networks the presence of the northerner at the heart of the operations at the time of the facts, the burning news no longer seems to be the responsibility of Beauvau. Within the ministry, we certify once again that counterfeit banknotes and people without banknotes are the heart of the problem, even the only one, and therefore that the subject of maintaining public order is not called into question. It is up to the brand new Minister of Sports, with her two weeks of political experience and a cabinet not yet formed, to put out the fire… and to try to ease the tensions with our English neighbors – associations of supporters, former players, journalists – who dispute the conclusions of the French executive. It is she who will be sent to the RTL morning show on Monday morning. It is she, too, who will lead the meeting with “the actors in the organization of the Champions League final” at 11 a.m. at the ministry; Gérald Darmanin will be represented there by his chief of staff…
We knew the less discreet ex-LR; even if for three five years, several of his colleagues in the government praise, or sting, it is according to the skill of the northerner to avoid the bullets and to choose his fights. However, the Matignon teams claim to have contacted the teams of the two ministries this Sunday, to ask them – and therefore ask Darmanin and Oudéa-Castéra – “to come up together on the subject, because there is also a question of order audience”. Finally, Darmanin will be at Monday’s meeting at 11 a.m. According to a pillar of the majority, confirming the information from RTL, Emmanuel Macron, imitated by Elisabeth Borne, would have himself asked his Minister of the Interior to step up and rectify the line, “to stop with this speech which consisted of saying ‘it’s not us, we didn’t screw up’ which was not tenable”, blows the same source.
While it was also not originally planned, Gérald Darmanin accompanies Oudéa-Castéra to the press conference on Monday noon to shed light on what happened at the Stade de France. The Minister of the Interior insists: “30,000 to 40,000 English supporters found themselves at the Stade de France, either without tickets or with falsified tickets,” he said. The figures are disputed at the moment by many observers, connoisseurs and journalists: Darmanin clings to the data transmitted by the Paris prefecture during the weekend. “Basically, the Minister of the Interior knows nothing; on the other hand, he has many channels that send him the information. Once he has released them, he cannot say that it is the fault of the prefect of police”, summarizes a close friend of Emmanuel Macron who knows Beauvau well, its functioning and its pitfalls. The same also explains that, according to him, the number of police forces had been underestimated to ensure the maintenance of order during this final, forcing the stewards to manage a situation of which they were not a fine connoisseur. . On Monday evening, Gérald Darmanin is sent to 8 p.m. on TF1 to try to end the controversy: if there is a slight change in tone on his side – he evokes for the first time images “difficult to see on television” regarding the behavior of certain police forces towards Liverpool supporters – the minister is staying the course.
Tuesday morning, Darmanin goes to Matignon for his “bilateral” meeting with Elisabeth Borne, planned for a long time: the Prime Minister wishes to take stock with each of the members of her government team. The subject cannot be silenced: she asks her Minister of the Interior, according to those around her, to “debrief” what happened in Saint-Denis “to shed light on the many dysfunctions”. “It’s the Borne method: there were flaws, we have to correct them. She considers that France cannot afford to have this image internationally, it must not happen again, she was very clear about the expectations”, we continue in her team. The head of government expects her two ministers to take their responsibilities in this affair, considering all its dimensions, and that they are smart enough not to spark the controversy for several more weeks. Borne has had to face a series of controversies since her arrival at Matignon, she does not want to get too deeply involved in this story. “She must have learned a lot from Edouard Philippe when he was in his place, she understood that she should not throw herself on all the shit right away, laughs a pillar of the majority who had campaigned for Terminal for several weeks. Especially since she knows that Darmanin can take himself for a Deputy Prime Minister, even that he would be delighted to be his successor…”
The message was obviously understood by Gérald Darmanin. Auditioned with his colleague from Sports by the Senate this Wednesday afternoon, the Minister of the Interior has obviously changed his speech and put water in his wine. “It is obvious that things could have been better organized. Were we able to avoid the worst? Yes. Could we organize better? Could we have anticipated more? No doubt,” he told the parliamentarians of the upper house, before announcing that French police will be deployed in Spain and England to collect any complaints from Real Madrid and Liverpool supporters. Regarding the images of gassings of supporters by certain police forces on Saturday evening, Gérald Darmanin also explained that he wanted to change the doctrine in place: “Are these means of dispersion adequate for an event like this? Obviously , the experience deserves to be widely reviewed. So I asked right now – in the context of sporting events, in an exceptional event that has never taken place in this proportion in France – that we can obviously have different rules.”
Aware of the image he has been sending back since Saturday evening, that of an interior minister who is too braced, too “straight in his boots”, Gérald Darmanin took advantage of this hearing to express several mea-culpas. “It will be very precise, you will see,” wrote one of his government colleagues a few hours earlier, no doubt waiting for these relaxations. But the management of this Champions League final will remain one of the events that will mark his time at Beauvau. Darmanin lost a few points, will he be able to recover them?