Son of a father who owns a bar and a mother who worked as a cleaning lady at the central bank of France, Darmanin takes one of the most exposed portfolios of French politics – the one that ruined careers but also propelled his mentor Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency.
He succeeds the ministry to Christophe Castaner, whose sometimes troubled passage over two years has been marked by allegations of racism within the police and complaints from agents that he has not defended them.
The police must be “assured of my full support. They should never doubt that I will be the first of them, “said Darmanin on Tuesday at Castaner’s delivery.
– “No obstacle” –
Darmanin’s youth, ambition and loyalty to President Emmanuel Macron make it a shining example of the so-called “Macronie” elite of young center-left and center-right figures in the service of the Head of State since 2017.
His rapid rise came despite allegations by a woman that he raped her in 2009 after she asked for his help to have a criminal record struck down while he was a senior official of the predecessor of the right-wing Republican party , the UMP.
Darmanin denied Sophie Patterson-Spatz’s claims and the charges were dismissed in 2018. He himself filed a defamation claim against her.
But earlier this year, appellate judges in Paris ordered the reopening of the investigation into the allegations.
A source at the Elysee Palace said that the rape complaint against Darmanin “did not constitute an obstacle” to his appointment and that the case seemed to “go in the right direction” for him.
As the ceremony took place in Paris to transfer power from Castaner to Darmanin, around twenty feminists protested nearby, shouting “Darmanin is resigning!” “And” rapist Darmanin “.
“It is a powerful slap that Emmanuel Macron delivered to all those who mobilized against sexual violence,” added socialist senator Laurence Rossignol, former Minister for Women’s Rights.
“You are accused of rape and you become the first cop in France,” boils the collective Dare feminism, which launched a petition for the resignation of Darmanin.
Prosecutors dismissed allegations of a second woman who accused Darmanin of using his position to seek sexual favors while he was mayor of the northern city of Tourcoing between 2014 and 2017, a assertion that he also denies.
– “Treason in the genes” –
Politically, Darmanin is seen as standing to the right of Castaner, who came to the Macron government of the Socialist Party.
Darmanin made his political weapons in the 2007-2012 administration of Sarkozy, joined Parliament in 2012 and was elected mayor of Tourcoing in 2012.
He left the Republican party to join Macron’s brand new Republic on the move (LREM).
Darmanin has so far served as minister of the budget under Macron, which has placed France’s heavy tax system under tighter control despite little prior experience in tax matters.
He boasted earlier this month that French tax revenue inspectors had helped the state recover nearly 12 billion euros ($ 13.5 billion) in 2019, a “record” year.
Darmanin’s articulation and gentleness marked him as a strong media performer, a gift that is not universally shared by the young politicians promoted by Macron in 2017.
His promotion, however, did not impress the leader of his former Republican party, Christian Jacob, who warned Macron to “beware of Darmanin” who he said had “a betrayal in his genes”.
On Tuesday, Darmanin launched a solid defense of the French secular system, promising to “fight against all the forces of political Islam”.