How many kinds of French minister are there?

secrétaire d’état is considered a minister, but subordinate to a more senior minister in charge of a large ministry

11 December 2020
By Liv Rowland

Reader question: Who is considered a minister? Does a secrétaire d’état qualify?

Yes, a secrétaire d’état is considered a minister, but subordinate to a more senior minister in charge of a large ministry.

For example, Clément Beaune is in charge of European affairs, but falls under the larger Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, headed by Jean-Yves Le Drian. They do not attend ordinary meetings of the Conseil des Ministres (French cabinet) but are called on when their specialism is on the agenda.

It is not to be confused with the UK’s secretary of state, who is a senior cabinet minister in charge of a major ministry.

There is also ministre délégué, a minister who works alongside another senior minister helping them with part of their responsibilities. They attend the Conseil des Ministres. A title of ministre d’état is occasionally given as an honour or to designate certain high-ranking ministers who are, for example, heads of major parties.

No one is currently designated as such.

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