Have you noticed just how many of the cabinet are either avocats or magistrats, or have some sort of formal training in droit. Far larger than the number of Enarques. I wonder if this has something to do with the preference for more direct, legislative sovereignty. It is reminiscent of that great "republique des avocats," the Third.Yes, indeed, I had noticed, though it's good to have this point made by the author of Lawyers and Citizens: The Making of a Political Elite in Old Regime France.
Take, for example, the new defense minister, Hervé Morin. Like Sarkozy, he was trained as a lawyer but had little if any practical legal experience before obtaining his first electoral post. By contrast, Rachida Dati, the new justice minister, served as a magistrate and actually took her oath of office in the judicial robes of her mentor Simone Weil, so the affinity among magistrates would seem to have played a part in her rise.
The return of the lawyer might well prove to be, as David suggests, a fruitful avenue for research in the contemporary history of France. A few thoughts. One might want to consider changes in the methods of selection for advanced education in France. Once upon a time, excellence in literary studies was the royal road to the Grandes Ecoles, the select group of elite institutions from which national leaders in both business and politics were drawn. But some years ago, mathematics replaced literature as the crucial discipline, and economics replaced literature and history as the queen of sciences in the Grandes Ecoles. Specialists--those who know everything about nothing, as the wag said--replaced generalists, masters of la culture générale--who conversely know nothing about everything.
Might we see the return of the lawyers as the revenge of the generalists, the non-matheux, the excluded from the new system of elite recruitment? Curiously, these non-nerds (as a lapsed mathematician, I license myself to use the pejorative) have knitted close alliances with some of the more successful nerds in the French business community: Jean-Luc Lagardère, one of Dati's patrons, started out as an engineer, as did Francis Bouygues, the founder of the Bouygues Group and father of its current head Martin Bouygues, who was witness to Sarkozy's second marriage and godfather to one of his sons. By contrast, Vincent Bolloré, the financier who paid for Sarkozy's post-election sojourn on the yacht Christina (which rents for 193,000 euros a week), began with a law degree from Nanterre.
"Crony capitalism," a descriptive epithet that has been applied to France for some decades now, and which has persisted through the eras of alternance and cohabitation, is not likely to end anytime soon, but the relations among the cronies will be different, since the tycoons no longer owe their positions to their relations with the governors, and the governors have trained as "advocates," specialists of the word only and supple in adapting language as needed to the case at hand.