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FRANCE

Veteran Socialist left-winger Henri Emmanuelli dies, aged 71

Henri Emmanuelli in 2014
Henri Emmanuelli in 2014 Reuters/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

The former minister and president of France's National Assembly Henri Emmanuelli has died at the age of 71. A longstanding figure on the left of the ruling Socialist Party, he supported Benoît Hamon in the primary ahead of this year's presidential election.

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President François Hollande hailed a "fine moral figure", a "socialist of the heart, the reason and action", on hearing the news.

  • 31 May 1945: Born in Eaux-Bonnes, south-west France, losing his father at a young age;
  • 1974: Works for Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild;
  • 1971: Appointed to Rothschild management, joins Socialist Party;
  • 1975: Appointed Rothschild co-director;
  • 1978: Elected to National Assembly and the president of the Landes department;
  • 1981-1983: Secretary of State for overseas territories;
  • 1983-86: Secretary of State for budget;
  • 1987: Socialist Party treasurer;
  • 1992-93: President of the National Assembly;
  • 1994-95: Socialist Party first secretary;
  • 1997: Convicted of illicit funding while Socialist Party treasurer, given 18-month suspended sentence and deprived of civic rights for two years;
  • 2000: Returns to the National Assembly and the Landes presidency;
  • 2005: Campaigns for rejection of the EU’s Maastricht Treaty in France’s referendum;
  • 2015: Reelected president of the Landes department, announces that he suffers from neuropathy;
  • 2017: Supports Benoît Hamon in the Socialist primary;
  • 21 March 2017: Dies after being hospitalised for double bronchitis in Bayonne.

"He expressed his convictions with firmness and sometimes bluntly, always with sincerity," he declared. "He was very demanding of justice and equality."

"Henri Emmanuelli confronted the storms without ever bending," commented Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. "He had loyalty in his heart and his compass set to the left."

Former prime minister Alain Juppé, a leader of the right-wing Republicans party in the south-west, called Emmanuelli "a man who was ready to assume his responsibilities to the very end" in a statement.

Socialist left-winger

Emmanuelli was a close ally of Socialist President François Mitterrand and, after his death, a stalwart of the party's left, leading the New World faction that called for more radical policies after Lionel Jospin's failure to reach the second round in the 2002 presidential election.

His conviction for involvement in illicit financing while party treasurer did nothing to harm his standing in the party, although it led to him being banned from holding public office for two years and an 18-month suspended prison sentence.

In 2005 he joined many left-wingers, and some on the right, in campaigning for a no vote in France's referendum on the European Union's Maastricht Treaty.

The victory of the no failed to prevent the treaty being eventually adopted.

He backed fellow left-winger Benoît Hamon in the primary for the Socialist candidate in this year's presidential election.

Hamon, who won the primary, was visibly moved by the news of the death.

"It really upsets me," he commented, calling the older man a "brother in politics".

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