Hulot: France's "green conscience" resigns

French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot announced his resignation in a live broadcast by radio station France Inter on Tuesday. The former environmental activist justified his decision saying that he felt that the government had left him "all alone" in his campaign for the environment. Many commentators find his actions understandable.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Just an alibi minister

Several presidents wanted to see Hulot appointed as Minister for the Environment. Corriere della Sera's Paris correspondent Stefano Montefiore doesn't find it surprising that Hulot first joined Macron's government but has now resigned:

“Hulot said yes to Macron 14 months ago because he was given a ministry with broad competences - and the rank of deputy prime Minister. ... In return Hulot, who was not always aware of this, was to play the role of the human face - well-known and popular with the French in a government full of political novices and technocrats with liberal tendencies. Hulot had hoped to turn the entire government into an eco-friendly one. The government, however, confined itself to assigning all the environmental issues to him alone, as a kind of alibi for the general disinterest.”

Libération (FR) /

The end of a political illusion

In view of Macron's liberal mindset Hulot should not have harboured any illusions, Libération comments:

“Limiting climate change, making food products healthier, regulating transportation, advancing the energy transformation, caring for the planet - anyone who wants all of this must also be able to control the economy and the financial world. The big business lobbies, however, never stop working in the opposite direction, denouncing norms, regulations, state intervention and incentive-based taxation. It's said that environmental protection is neutral, of equal interest to all parties. But that's nonsense. On the contrary, it requires a collective approach to economic development and close cooperation between the private and public sectors. ... Macronism seeks to reconcile laissez-faire policy and environmental protection. That's a political oxymoron, a philosophical mistake. And Hulot fell for it.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Politics needs experts like Hulot

Hulot's departure is a bitter setback and exposes a weak point in democratic politics, De Morgen writes:

“Politics is having a hard time attracting people from different careers and high-profile experts. ... In politics you have to be willing to swallow short-term compromises in order to achieve long-term goals. And for people like Hulot that's too much pragmatism. However, the pragmatism often goes too far and reduces politics to the level of a tactical and sometimes cynical election campaign: power is sought for power's sake. Perhaps Hulot wasn't the best choice for minister: if you work in the kitchen you have to be able to take the heat. ... But politics won't manage to make difficult long-term decisions without the insights to be gained from career jumpers like Hulot.”