the FrenchIn the latest of a series of ministerial exits from the deeply unpopular government of French President François Hollande, minister for culture Aurélie Filippetti has quit during a ministerial reshuffle, ostensibly over Hollande’s new austerity policies. She joins former education minister Benoît Hamon and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, himself already cited as a left-leaning chauvinist in other high-profile negotiations and spats with France’s international investors and business partners.

In an open letter, Filippetti has warned of political disarray that is throwing the electorate into disillusionment with politics, “or worse, into the arms of the Front National.” The letter also refers to an “unprecedented decline in the budget of the Ministry of Culture.” Filippetti’s own record in office, however, has been criticized recently, due in part to repeated delays in the reopening of the Pablo Picasso Museum in Paris.

Filippetti has been at the forefront of France’s cultural offensive against Amazon and in favor of its own bookstores and publishing industry. The campaign’s significant lack of success is not listed as a major reason for her departure, but it hardly adds to her list of achievements. As recently as mid-August, Filippetti was publicly castigating Amazon again as a destroyer of literary diversity, and pledging her support for the Authors United anti-Amazon campaign.

Whether Filippetti’s departure signals a more mature, open, and engaged cultural policy from France remains to be seen. One can only hope …


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