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How much do former French prime ministers cost taxpayers?

There is life after Matignon.

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How much do former French prime ministers cost taxpayers?

There is life after Matignon... and expenses. If we talk a lot about the lifestyle of former Presidents of the Republic, paid for life by the State, that of former Prime Ministers is lesser known. Former heads of government also enjoy many privileges. In addition to severance pay (equivalent to the salary received in office, paid for three months), they also benefit from numerous benefits in kind. Every outgoing Prime Minister is entitled to a personal assistant for his particular secretariat as well as a car with driver and a bodyguard to ensure his security. Related costs, such as gasoline, are also entirely covered by the State.

On arrival, the bill turns out to be rather hefty. Under these different resources, the former tenants of Matignon cost 0.98 million euros in 2022, as revealed by the 2024 finance bill, which scrutinizes the State's operating expenses. The text lists in particular all the personnel costs linked to the various outgoing Prime Ministers. As a reminder, France has thirteen: Édith Cresson, Édouard Balladur, Lionel Jospin, Laurent Fabius, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Dominique de Villepin, François Fillon, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Manuel Valls, Laurent Fabius, Édouard Philippe and Jean Castex. All have chosen to benefit from the benefits offered by the State in respect of their former position. Only Laurent Fabius, as President of the Constitutional Council and Édouard Philippe, as a local elected official, have additional means and therefore do not have resources made available as former Prime Ministers.

Some “old hands” have been particularly greedy, like Lionel Jospin who accumulated nearly 153,620 euros in expenses in 2022, which places him at the top of the most spending ex-Prime Ministers of the Republic. The two collaborators employed by the former socialist head of government cost the State more than 153,000 euros in personnel costs. Lionel Jospin is, however, closely followed by his elder Édouard Balladur, whose total expenses exceed 144,000 euros. Next come Bernard Cazeneuve, former Prime Minister of François Hollande (144,169 euros) and François Fillon, head of government under the five-year term of Nicolas Sarkozy (140,039 euros).

Conversely, the top trio of the most economical former ministers is made up of Jean Castex, Manuel Valls and Edith Cresson. These three ex-tenants of Matignon did not exceed 62,000 euros in annual expenses. A handful of ministers are finally within the budgetary average: these are Dominique de Villepin (131,210), Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Alain Juppé.

The bill may vary depending on the former Prime Minister, but it nonetheless remains higher than ten years ago. In 2014, the investigative newspaper Mediapart was indignant at the money swallowed up by the former tenants of Matignon for their benefits in kind.

Are the former heads of government too expensive? In any case, it is to prevent the budgetary surge that Emmanuel Macron chose to restrict the largesse granted to former Prime Ministers. The material and personnel support that the latter can claim was thus reduced by a decree of September 20, 2019. As of this date, outgoing Prime Ministers no longer benefit from a private secretary for life: they do not are only entitled to it for 10 years and until the age of 67. Furthermore, former Prime Ministers who have equivalent support for a parliamentary mandate or a public function are now deprived of resources for their time at Matignon.

The scope of this text is however limited since former Prime Ministers whose functions ceased before September 22, 2019 can still benefit from a private secretary until September 22, 2029, without age limit. The majority of Matignon's former tenants therefore still have access to it. The company car with driver also remains maintained for all former heads of government without time limit. The fact remains that the expenses of the former tenants of Matignon can easily be put into perspective if we compare them to those of the former occupants of the Élysée: in 2022, the two former presidents of the Republic cost more than a million euros to the State (1.05 million). François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy spent 1,847,272 and 1,818,527 euros respectively that year, more than all the Prime Ministers combined.

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