François René Jean Lucien Bayrou (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃swa bajʁu]; born 25 May 1951) is a French politician who has presided over the Democratic Movement (MoDem) since he founded it in 2007. A centrist, he was a candidate in the 2002, 2007 and 2012 presidential elections. He has also presided over the European Democratic Party (EDP) since 2004.

François Bayrou
Bayrou in 2018
Minister of State, Minister of Justice
In office
17 May 2017 – 19 June 2017
Prime MinisterÉdouard Philippe
Preceded byJean-Jacques Urvoas
Succeeded byNicole Belloubet
Minister of National Education
In office
29 March 1993 – 4 June 1997
Prime MinisterÉdouard Balladur
Alain Juppé
Preceded byJack Lang
Succeeded byClaude Allègre
Mayor of Pau
Assumed office
4 April 2014
Preceded byMartine Lignières-Cassou
President of the Democratic Movement
Assumed office
2 December 2007
Preceded byPosition established
President of the Union for French Democracy
In office
25 February 1998 – 30 November 2007
Preceded byFrançois Léotard
Succeeded byPosition abolished
President of the European Democratic Party
Assumed office
13 July 2004
Preceded byPosition established
Member of the European Parliament
In office
20 July 1999 – 20 June 2002
President of the General Council
of Pyrénées-Atlantiques
In office
2 April 1992 – 23 March 2001
Preceded byHenri Grenet
Succeeded byJean-Jacques Lasserre
Personal details
François René Jean Lucien Bayrou

(1951-05-25) 25 May 1951 (age 73)
Bordères, France
Political partyDemocratic Movement (2007–present)
Other political
Union for French Democracy (1979–2007)
Centre of Social Democrats (1979–1995)
Democratic Force (1995–1998)
Alma materUniversity Bordeaux Montaigne
WebsiteOfficial website

From 1993 to 1997, he was Minister of National Education in three successive governments. He was also a member of the National Assembly for a seat in Pyrénées-Atlantiques from 1986 to 2012 with brief interruptions and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1999 to 2002. He has been Mayor of Pau since 2014.

It was speculated that Bayrou would be a candidate in the 2017 presidential election, but he decided not to run and instead supported Emmanuel Macron, who – after winning the election – named him Minister of State for Justice in the government headed by Édouard Philippe. On 21 June 2017, he resigned from the government amid an investigation into the MoDem's allegedly fraudulent employment of parliamentary assistants, initiated earlier that month.

Early life


Bayrou was born on 25 May 1951 in Bordères, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, a village located between Pau and Lourdes. He is the son of farmer Calixte Bayrou (1909–1974), MRP mayor of Bordères from 1947 to 1953, and Emma Sarthou (1918–2009).[1][2][3] Bayrou descends from an ancestry of primarily Occitans except from his maternal grandmother's side which is Irish.[4]

When Bayrou was in his youth, he developed a stutter which led to him attending speech therapy for seven years.[5] He first went to secondary school in Pau, before transferring to Bordeaux. He studied literature at university, and at the age of 23, sat the "agrégation", the highest qualifying level for teachers in senior high schools and universities in France. Around the same time, his father was killed in a tractor accident.

Bayrou was married in 1971 to Élisabeth Perlant also known as "Babette".[6] He and Perlant have five children, Hélène, Marie, Dominique, Calixte and Agnès.[7] The children were raised on the farm where Bayrou was born and Bayrou currently lives there with Perlant.

Prior to embarking on his political career, Bayrou taught history in Béarn in the French Pyrenees.[8] He is the author of several books on politics and history, including one on King Henry IV of France. Bayrou's hobby is raising horses. Although a practising Roman Catholic, he strongly supports France's system of laïcité.

Political career


First steps in politics: 1982–2002


In Bayrou's youth, he was active in nonviolent movements and followed Gandhi disciple, Lanza del Vasto.[9]

Bayrou, a member of the Centre of Social Democrats (CDS), the Christian-democratic wing of the Union for French Democracy (UDF) confederation, was elected to the General Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in 1982 in the canton of Pau-Sud, then the French National Assembly four years later.[10] After the victory of the RPR/UDF coalition in the 1993 legislative election, he became Education Minister in the cabinet led by Edouard Balladur. In this post, he proposed a reform allowing local authorities to subsidise private schools, which caused massive protests and was quashed by the Constitutional Council.

In 1989, after poor results in both the municipal elections and the European Parliament elections, Bayrou and twelve other centre-right parliamentarians including Philippe Séguin, Michel Noir, Alain Carignon, Étienne Pinte, Michel Barnier, François Fillon, Charles Millon, Dominique Baudis, François d'Aubert, Philippe de Villiers and Bernard Bosson demanded reform of the system at the RPR and the UDF, criticising the most prominent politicians of these parties including former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. They called for the formation of a new right-wing party to unite the UDF and the RPR into a single entity. Ideological differences between members of this group led to members leaving, though d'Estaing endorsed Bayrou to become UDF general secretary in 1991.[11]

Despite supporting Édouard Balladur's candidacy in the 1995 presidential election, Bayrou remained Education Minister following Jacques Chirac's election and the formation of a new government headed by Alain Juppé. Following the majority for the Plural Left in the 1997 legislative election, Bayrou returned to opposition and became president of the UDF in 1998, transforming it into a unified party rather than a union of smaller parties.

Positioning of the UDF as a centrist party: 2002–2007


In 2002 François Bayrou rejected proposals to merge the UDF with the Rally for the Republic (RPR), into a new entity that later became the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). As a result, many UDF members left to join the UMP.

Bayrou was increasingly critical of the direction taken by the UMP-led government, which he described as out of touch with the average Frenchman. He denounced the de facto two-party system, in which the Socialist Party and the RPR (later UMP) alternate. Instead, Bayrou called for a pluralist system in which other parties would also contribute.[12]

On 16 May 2006, Bayrou supported a motion of no confidence sponsored by Socialist deputies calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's government following the Clearstream affair.[13] As de Villepin's UMP had an absolute majority in the National Assembly, the motion failed. Following Bayrou's support for this measure, France's television authority classified him as a member of the parliamentary opposition for timing purposes. However, after Bayrou protested, he was classified as a member of neither the majority nor the opposition.

Second presidential campaign: 2007


Bayrou contested the presidency again in 2007. Most commentators had expected the election to be fought primarily between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal of the Parti Socialiste. However, Bayrou's increasing support in polls in February complicated the "Sarko-Ségo" scenario, and led to speculation that the Parti Socialiste candidate would fail to progress to the second round for a second consecutive election, following the defeat of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 2002 by National Front leader Jean Marie Le Pen. Ultimately, Bayrou finished in third place in the election with 18.57% of the vote (6,820,119 votes), behind Sarkozy and Royal, the best performance by the UDF in a presidential election since 1981. Bayrou declared that he could not endorse either Sarkozy or Royal in the second round, although he indicated that Sarkozy was the worse of the two.

Foundation of the Democratic Movement: 2007–2012


After the 2007 election, Bayrou intented to form a new centrist party, the Democratic Movement (MoDem). The majority of UDF politicians did not follow him, and instead formed a rival party, the New Centre, which pledged to support an alliance with the UMP. However, most of the UDF's grassroots membership remained with Bayrou and joined MoDem. In the subsequent legislative elections in June 2007, MoDem came third with 7.6% of the vote. Although an increase on the UDF share of the poll of 4.9% in the 2002 elections, MoDem won only four seats, including Bayrou's own seat. The other parliamentarians elected on the party's list were Jean Lasalle, Thierry Benoit (who has since left the party, to join the New Centre) and Abdoulatifou Aly. The establishment of MoDem led to the formal dismantling of the UDF alliance on 30 November.

Third presidential election: 2012

François Bayrou at a meeting in Marseille in April 2012

On 18 August 2011, Bayrou released a book, 2012. Etat d'urgence, in which he discussed how and why the economic crisis happened, and outlined the top priorities of his next presidential program: production and education.

François Bayrou confirmed his candidacy for the 2012 presidential election on 25 November 2011, in an interview with journalist Laurence Ferrari on her show Parole Directe on TF1.[14]

His supporters included:

Bayrou was eliminated in the first round, receiving around half of his vote share from 2007; he endorsed Socialist François Hollande in the runoff.[19]

2017 presidential election


On 22 February 2017, Bayrou stated that he would not contest the 2017 presidential election, instead endorsing the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron of En Marche!.[20] The alliance surprised French political pundits and rival candidates.[20] Part of the agreement was Macron's commitment to support a clean government law proposed by Bayrou.[20] Bayrou said that France was "at extreme risk", requiring an "exceptional response",[20] adding that the alliance did not mean that MoDem would be subsumed by En Marche![20]

Minister of Justice (2017)


On 17 May 2017, Bayrou was appointed as Minister of Justice in the first Philippe government.[21]

Le Canard enchaîné published information that Democratic Movement politician Marielle de Sarnez had been paid for work she had not actually done, embroiling Bayrou in a fictitious jobs scandal.[22] France Info later reported that MoDem had "over a dozen" fictitious jobs in the European Parliament.[23]

Bayrou resigned several days before the 2017 legislative election, only 35 days after he had taken the post.[24][25]

Later career


In February 2022, Bayrou created what he calls a "sponsorship bank", joined by a few hundred local officials, willing to give their signatures to candidates for the presidential election struggling to obtain them, even if they represent a large part of the public according to opinion polls,[26] including far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.[26]

Following the appointment of Gabriel Attal as Prime Minister in January 2024, Bayrou stated that he would not be joining the government; he had been widely expected to return to the cabinet after he was acquitted of fraud charges shortly before.[27]

Political views

François Bayrou in Strasbourg in 2007

Bayrou has been a vocal campaigner on a variety of issues, including reform of the political process, civil liberties, and free software (see DADVSI). During the 2007 presidential election campaign he described the European Union as "the most beautiful construction of all humanity".[28] He called for France to play a greater role in the European Union's affairs, and supports the ratification of a European Constitution, in a more concise and readable form than the one voted down by the French electorate in 2005.[29]

In an interview with The New York Times in 2007, Bayrou said: "I am a democrat, I am a Clintonian, I am a man of the 'third way'".[30] He positioned himself as a centrist, although he has historic ties to the right. His platform emphasises job creation, improvement of educational standards, improved conditions in the troubled suburbs, reduced government spending, a balanced budget and a stronger European Union, with France as its de facto leader. He has also criticized China's protection of the Sudanese government from UN Security Council sanctions. Bayrou was highly critical of the American economic model under George Bush and of the unregulated free market in general. He described the United States economic model as a "survival of the fittest" system, where it was often stated that money was people's only motivation, where higher education was too expensive, and where the middle class was shrinking.[30] Bayrou criticized the Iraq war, saying it was "the cause of chaos" in the region.[30]

François Bayrou in 2009

He criticized Nicolas Sarkozy's foreign policy, including the invitation of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for a week-long state visit to France and the signing of military cooperation agreements with Libya.

In 2009, he criticized statements by Pope Benedict XVI claiming that condoms promote AIDS. Bayrou called the remarks "unacceptable", adding that "the primary responsibility, particularly of Christians, is the defence of life...This is a continent in which tens of millions of women and men are dying."[31]

He called for France to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics, due to the poor human rights record in China and political unrest in Tibet. During a rally in Paris on 21 March he said that "if this drama does not stop, France would do itself credit by not coming to the Olympic Games", criticising China's opposition to sanctions against Sudan over its involvement in the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.[32]

Bayrou is fluent in Béarnese and often expresses his support for regionalism.[1]

Governmental functions
  • Minister of National Education: 1993–1995.
  • Minister of National Education, Higher education and Research: 1995–1997.
  • Minister of Justice: 2017-2017
Electoral mandates

European Parliament

National Assembly of France

General Council

Municipal Council

Political functions


  1. ^ a b Trevert, Émilie (3 November 2011). "Bayrou intime". Le Point (in French). Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  2. ^ "François Bayrou à 12 ans". Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  3. ^ Bernard Pascuito, Olivier Biscaye, Les Politiques aussi ont une mère: Fillon, Le Pen, Mélenchon, Bayrou, Valls, Macron, Le Maire, Sarkozy... Secrets de famille, Albin Michel, 2017
  4. ^ Barratt, Nick. "Family detective". Archived from the original on 21 September 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  5. ^ JDD, Le. "François Bayrou: "Je me suis mis à bégayer à 7-8 ans"" (in French). Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  6. ^ Who's Who in European Politics. Bowker-Saur. 1990. p. 45.
  7. ^ "PoliTIC'Show #2 (1/13) > F. Bayrou - vidéo Dailymotion". Dailymotion. 30 October 2006. Archived from the original on 14 March 2021. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  8. ^ Kramer, Jane. "Round One", The New Yorker, 23 April 2007.
  9. ^ "Douze trucs à savoir sur François Bayrou". L'Obs. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Francois Bayrou - or the power of self-belief". BBC News. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2024.
  11. ^ "Vingt ans après,les rénovateurs". Le Figaro (in French). 16 April 2009. ISSN 0182-5852. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Site officiel du Mouvement Démocrate – MoDem". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  13. ^ "ANALYSE DU SCRUTIN N° 978 – Séance du 16 mai 2006". Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Parole Directe-Bayrou annonce sa candidature pour la présidentielle 2012". 25 November 2011. Archived from the original on 4 December 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  15. ^ "Arthuis: "Un seul candidat pour la famille centriste!"". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Bernard Bosson annonce son soutien au candidat Bayrou pour la Présidentielle". 30 June 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Idrac : "Bayrou est le centriste authentique"". 17 September 2011. Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  18. ^ "Jean-François Kahn soutiendra à nouveau Bayrou à la présidentielle". 4 December 2011. Archived from the original on 21 May 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  19. ^ "France Centrist Bayrou's tactical game in supporting Hollande". France 24. 4 May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e Kim Willsher, French elections: Emmanuel Macron and François Bayrou form alliance Archived 23 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian (22 February 2017).
  21. ^ "Désormais ministres, Philippe, Le Drian, Bayrou, Collomb et Darmanin vont devoir abandonner leurs mandats locaux". Franceinfo (in French). 17 May 2017. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  22. ^ "L'ex-secrétaire de François Bayrou citée dans l'affaire MoDem". Marianne (in French). 13 June 2017. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  23. ^ "INFO FRANCEINFO. Une dizaine d'employés du Modem étaient rémunérés comme assistants parlementaires européens". Franceinfo (in French). 8 June 2017. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  24. ^ Boichot, Loris (21 June 2017). "François Bayrou et Marielle de Sarnez quittent le gouvernement". Le Figaro (in French). ISSN 0182-5852. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  25. ^ "DIRECT. La ministre des Affaires européennes, Marielle de Sarnez, quitte le gouvernement, dans la foulée du départ de François Bayrou". Franceinfo (in French). 21 June 2017. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  26. ^ a b Tassilo Hummel (27 February 2022), Macron ally offers help to far-right presidential candidate Le Pen Reuters.
  27. ^ Dominique Vidalon (8 February 2024), Top ally Bayrou says not joining French government, in blow for Macron Reuters.
  28. ^ Wall Street Journal, 23 February 2007
  29. ^ "François Bayrou: "L'Europe, c'est pas fait pour être mini"". Euronews. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2007.
  30. ^ a b c Sciolino, Elaine. "A 'Neither/Nor' Candidate for President Alters the French Political Landscape", The New York Times (8 March 2007)
  31. ^ "Le Parisien article". Le Parisien. 19 March 2009. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  32. ^ "Reuters AlertNet – Call for Olympic boycott stirs up pre-poll France". 22 March 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2010.



Bayrou is the sole author unless other names are mentioned.

  • La Décennie des mal-appris. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1990. ISBN 2-08-066472-7., subject(s): Enseignement—Réforme—France—1970–, Éducation et État—France—1970–.
  • Le roi libre. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1994. ISBN 2-08-066821-8. le Grand livre du mois 1994, subject(s): Henri IV (roi de France ; 1553–1610) – Biographies, France—1589–1610 (Henri IV).
  • Le roi libre. Paris: France loisirs. 1995. ISBN 2-7242-8944-7.
  • Letamendia, Pierre (1995). Le Mouvement républicain populaire : le MRP : histoire d'un grand parti français. Paris: Beauchesne. ISBN 2-7010-1327-5., preface by François Bayrou.
  • Le droit au sens. Paris: Flammarion. 1996. ISBN 2-08-067204-5., le Grand livre du mois 1996, subject(s): Politique et éducation—France—1990–, France—Conditions sociales—1981–.
  • Gelly, Violaine (1996). François Bayrou : portrait. [Étrépilly]: Bartillat. ISBN 2-84100-048-6.
  • Le roi libre. Paris: Éd. J'ai lu. 1996. ISBN 2-277-24183-0., series: J'ai lu 4183.
  • Michelland, Antoine; Séguy, Philippe (1996). François Bayrou : "et si la Providence veut". Monaco ; [Paris]: Éd. du Rocher. ISBN 2-268-02400-8.
  • France. Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (1995–1997) (c. 1996). Les États généraux de l'Université. Paris: ONISEP.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link), preface by François Bayrou.
  • France. Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (1995–1997) (1996). Les États généraux de l'Université : intervention de François Bayrou, ministre de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, Grand amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne, 18 juin 1996. [Paris]: [Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche].{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  • Saint-louis. [Paris]: Flammarion. 1997. ISBN 2-08-067208-8.
  • Henri IV. [Paris]: Perrin jeunesse. 1998. ISBN 2-262-01301-2., subject(s): Henri IV (roi de France ; 1553–1610 ) – Ouvrages pour la jeunesse.
  • Ils portaient l'écharpe blanche : l'aventure des premiers réformés, des Guerres de religion à l'édit de Nantes, de la Révocation à la Révolution. Paris: B. Grasset. 1998. ISBN 2-246-55981-2.
  • Henri IV : le roi libre. [Paris]: Flammarion. ISBN 2-08-067725-X., le Grand livre du mois 1999.
  • Bayrou, François; Pierre-Brossolette, Sylvie (1999). Hors des sentiers battus : entretiens avec Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette. Paris: Hachette littératures. ISBN 2-01-235258-8.
  • Ils portaient l'écharpe blanche : l'aventure des premiers réformés, des Guerres de religion à l'édit de Nantes, de la Révocation à la Révolution. Paris: Librairie générale française. 2000. ISBN 2-253-14779-6., series: Le livre de poche 14779.
  • Chaline, Nadine-Josette (2000). Jean Lecanuet. Paris: Beauchesne. ISBN 2-7010-1405-0., "témoignages de François Bayrou et de Dominique Baudis", series: Politiques & chrétiens 16.
  • François Bayrou, Qui êtes-vous ? Que proposez-vous ?. [Paris]: Archipel. 2001. ISBN 2-84187-283-1., series: L'Info. Citoyenne.
  • Relève. [Paris]: Grasset. 2001. ISBN 2-246-61821-5.
  • Oui : Plaidoyer pour la Constitution européenne. [Paris]: Plon. 2005. ISBN 2-259-20183-0.
  • Au nom du Tiers-État. [Paris]: Hachette. October 2006. ISBN 2-01-237250-3.
  • Projet d'Espoir. [Paris]: Plon. March 2007. ISBN 978-2-259-20162-9.
  • Abus de pouvoir, [Paris] Plon, 2009 ISBN 978-2-259-20876-5
  • 2012, Etat d'urgence, [Paris] Plon, 2011 ISBN 978-2-259-21661-6
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of National Education
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Union for French Democracy
Position abolished
New office Leader of the Democratic Movement