Jean-Michel Blanquer announced from Ibiza the protocol for the return to school in January

The difficulties are linked for Jean-Michel Blanquer. The Minister of National Education, who faces a revolt of teachers against the health protocol imposed in schools since the start of the school year, sees the criticisms resume even more after an article by Mediapart, who revealed on Monday, January 17, that the tenant in rue de Grenelle was on vacation on the island of Ibiza, Spain, when finalizing this protocol and granting an interview to the Parisian to reveal its content.

This interview (which was only accessible to subscribers), published on the afternoon of Sunday January 2, just a few hours before the start of the school year, had been criticized for its lateness, which did not allow school staff to have the time to own it. Above all, the cumbersomeness of the system and the multiplication of changes in the health protocol led to a vast strike movement in the schools, which saw the parents of students join, on January 13, in the anger of the teachers. A new day of mobilization is scheduled for Thursday, January 20, at the call of the unions, to demand “strong responses” of the government against “to chaos” caused by the health crisis.

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“Unbearable, irresponsible”

The opposition is already calling for the resignation of the Minister of Education. “Instead of preparing with teachers and parents of students for a return to school under Covid, the minister organized a media stunt with his feet in the sand. This level of contempt and irresponsibility is not acceptable”, thus denounced on Twitter the environmental candidate for the presidential election, Yannick Jadot, to justify this call for resignation. “The delay in communicating the protocol was officially linked to the need to stick to the reality of the start of the school year. When improvisation is born from a lie, trust is no longer possible., also tweeted the first secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, who added the hashtag “#blanquerdmission”.

The elected environmentalist Sandrine Rousseau brought her voice to the criticism, as did the deputy La France insoumise (LFI) Bastien Lachaud, who castigated the attitude “unbearable, irresponsible” of a minister who “Lounges in Ibiza and presents” a protocol “inept at the last moment”. “Let him get out and go back there!” », got carried away on Twitter the chosen one close to Jean-Luc Mélenchon. ” Enough is enough. Jean-Michel Blanquer must resign”, added his colleague from LFI Mathilde Panot.

Beyond that, several teachers’ unions, such as the SNES-FSU, have also castigated the “lightness” and the “casualty” of Mr. Blanquer, accused of showing “contempt for the whole educational community”.

“It was validated with the Prime Minister”

Contacted by The world, the cabinet of Jean-Michel Blanquer ensures that the stay of the minister in the Balearic archipelago “did not prevent him from working, from being on the job”. “The interview with The Parisian was made by videoconference on Saturday, then updated on Sunday before publication. This did not change the protocol output time in any way., we continue from the same source. If he had been there [à Paris], he wouldn’t have done anything different. It is not the Minister who shuttles between the Ministry of Health and us, but the Secretary General, it has been like that for two years. » The High Council for Public Health had only issued its opinion on the protocol on December 31, 2021 in the afternoon, we recall rue de Grenelle to explain the delay in government announcements.

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According to an executive adviser, Mr. Blanquer flew to Ibiza on December 28, 2021, after having provided an interview in the morning of France Inter, for holidays which had been postponed due to the meeting of a council. of health defense on December 27. Mr. Blanquer returned to Paris on January 2, the day before the start of the school year. “Whether he was physically in his office, in Normandy or over there, it would not have changed anything”, defends a loved one. The Elysée, like Matignon, for their part refuses to comment.

The entourage of Mr. Blanquer tries to clear up the controversy by ensuring that the latter had the agreement of the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, to work remotely. “It was validated with the Prime Minister. The minister was in constant telework”, says a relative. “The Minister must have been two hours from Paris, he was two hours from Paris. He was not in Timbuktu”, adds his cabinet. A version which is however not confirmed at the top of the State. “Matignon does not validate each other’s holidays, corrects an adviser to the executive. We set a rule: that they stay in Europe, that they stay two hours from Paris, and that they can be contacted at all times. »

“In terms of image, Ibiza is a disaster”

Another adviser affirms that Matignon, like part of Jean-Michel Blanquer’s entourage, had advised the minister against leaving for Ibiza in this context of the explosion of the Omicron wave, which threatened to disrupt the country, as well as the alerted the scientific council. “The symbolism is not happy. In terms of communication, now we row”, sighs a power strategist.

At the top of the state, several sources consider it necessary to support “whatever the cost” this weakened minister, so as not to open a political crisis less than three months before the presidential election of April 10 and 24. If the political capital of Jean-Michel Blanquer finds himself already very damaged since the start of the school year, there is no question that the controversy will reflect on Emmanuel Macron, who is preparing to run for a second term. “You do not let go of your Minister of Education three months before the presidential election. You don’t take that risk. So you grit your teeth. And you block, explains a leader of the majority, while acknowledging that“in terms of image, Ibiza is a disaster”.

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A deputy close to Mr. Blanquer summarizes the ambient feeling in part of the majority: “Was his weekend a good idea?” No. Do we cut off the head of a minister because he left for four days, validated with the Prime Minister, and teleworked? No. Can we grit our teeth and move on? No choice. » Most of the criticism issued since the start of the school year has focused on Jean-Michel Blanquer, designated on all sides as the target. Even Emmanuel Macron had recognized that the communication of his minister was faulty. “Rectorates need more anticipation and more time to communicate with schools”, he admitted on January 4 in an interview with the Parisian.

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Monday evening, Jean-Michel Blanquer was on the set of “C à vous”, on France 5, just before the publication of the article by Mediapart. “We are obviously all in a hurry to move on”, did he declare. Of course, he was talking about the health crisis.

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