An experienced senior official and mayor of a small town, Jean Castex, appointed to prepare for the deconfinement, combines knowledge of the terrain and mastery of the workings of the administration, precious assets for managing the delicate period of recovery from the crisis.
The new “Mr. Déconfinement”, a close friend of Nicolas Sarkozy aged 54, is “a senior official who knows the world of health perfectly and is formidable in efficiency”, summed up on Thursday 2 April Prime Minister Edouard Philippe by announcing his appointment.
In this post, the mayor LR of Prades (Pyrénées-Orientales) will have to work on “several scenarios”, in order to answer this “essential” question: “How do we decide to live in deconfinement with a disease from which it is almost acquired that ‘it will not have completely disappeared by the time we are going to proceed to the deconfinement? “
To solve this puzzle, the enarque accustomed to complex files can rely on a professional and political life very largely oriented towards the social sector and health.
“He is a real Swiss army knife, he has connections everywhere, he knows how to do what needs to be done in the right place”, assures Franck Louvrier, the former adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy.
Little known to the general public, Jean Castex notably knows the hospital sector very well, having been in 2005-2006 director of hospitalization and organization of care at the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Cohesion.
He then became director of cabinet to Xavier Bertrand twice, first at the Ministry of Health (2006-2007) and then at Work (2007-2008).
“The first pandemic plan is Jean Castex who is dircab” at the time of the H5N1 virus, recalls Xavier Bertrand, stressing that “WHO had then indicated that we were one of the best prepared countries in the world” .
“The side + I put in place a plan that does not work on the ground + it’s really not the kind of house Castex”, he adds, praising “clear ideas and outspoken” of this “rectified enarch elected local”.
– “the pulse of the country” –
Rue de Grenelle, Jean Castex also had to manage delicate files, in particular the minimum service in transport and the reform of special retirement plans.
At the time, he left with his interlocutors from the trade union centers the memory of a man “available” and “pleasant” even if he “hides a certain firmness”, with “an excellent knowledge of his files”, “someone who we can talk to. “
“Politically, I’m right and I assume it perfectly,” said the member of the Court of Accounts.
Member of the Republicans, he supports the candidacy of François Fillon for the presidency of the UMP during the 2012 autumn congress.
But he also knows how to manage his support for La République en Marche: his name had circulated in late 2018 to become Minister of the Interior after the departure of Gérard Collomb. The former socialist Christophe Castaner had finally been preferred to Jean Castex, former deputy secretary general of the Elysée under Nicolas Sarkozy.
Until his appointment as interministerial delegate at the Paris-2024 Olympic Games and at major sporting events, he also chaired the National Sports Agency.
Regional councilor of Languedoc-Roussillon from 2010 to 2015, he was defeated in the legislative elections of 2012 by the candidate PS Ségolène Neuville.
Since 2008 mayor of Prades, who re-elected him very widely last March (76%), this father of four has retained his southern accent and remains attached to his native Gers, where he had not given up spending weekends when he was at the Elysée.
By giving it “the pulse of the country”, this territorial anchoring could prove to be a “master asset” to prepare for the deconfinement, considers Franck Louvrier: “it is precious” because it will be necessary to “win the support of all those who decide locally”.
But Jean Castex “will not arrive with a miracle solution right away,” warns Xavier Bertrand, because “everyone understood that the conditions for leaving containment would also depend on the number of masks and tests”.