France’s justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has apologised after making a ‘bras d’honneur’ gesture twice at an opponent in parliament on Tuesday evening (March 7).
A ‘bras d’honneur’ gesture is made by putting a fist up and putting your other arm into the crease of the elbow. The rough meaning is a sign of contempt and anger and can be mildly translated as ‘up yours’ (as well as many other less-mild meanings).
The gesture was made towards The Republicans’ (LR) president Olivier Marleix.
À l'Assemblée, Éric Dupond-Moretti fait deux bras d'honneur à Olivier Marleix, avant de présenter ses «excuses»— Le Figaro (@Le_Figaro) March 7, 2023
Les députés examinaient une proposition de loi Renaissance sur l'instauration d'une peine d'inéligibilité en cas de violences conjugales. pic.twitter.com/7VW2Q0Y2ty
The head of France Unbowed (LFI) MPs, Mathilde Panot, said: “To do the bras d’honneur at a party president is beneath your position.”
She said the gesture had “discredited” the minister and was not fitting for “the eminent functions” of the role.
Olivier Faure, first secretary of the Socialists (PS), said: “It’s unacceptable. This is something completely unprecedented, it’s a scandal.”
Mr Marleix said: “The dignified thing would be to quit, but you’ve just been rude.”
The MP added that he was shocked at the “model and example” the minister was showing to young pupils, who might be tempted to use the same tactic against their teachers in school.
He called for Dupond-Moretti to be investigated and said he wanted an apology from the ‘institution’ of government and not the minister.
At the suggestion he should quit, Mr Dupond-Moretti shrugged, as if to show he would not be leaving.
LR MP Patrick Hetzel said: “You behaved in an undignified way. Our colleagues were extremely surprised. But we’re not shocked by this practice. Normally, a minister of the republic should have a duty to lead by example while in the chamber, but he doesn’t at all.”
‘No place in the hemicycle’
Transport Minister Clément Beaune today (March 8) admitted to LCI television news channel that “this gesture has no place in the democratic hemicycle of our country”, and said that Mr Dupond-Moretti had apologised for the action.
The minister said: “This was not an appropriate gesture. I apologise to Mr Marleix, and to all national representatives.”
He was persuaded to apologise by Assemblée Nationale president Yaël Braun-Pivet.
However, in his defence, Mr Dupond-Moretti said that he was not intending the gesture personally at Mr Marleix, but at what he was saying. He claimed that he was attacking the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.
He said: “I didn’t do one bras d’honneur, I did two” to show that he was responding to words, rather than to the speaker himself.
Dupond-Moretti déraille à l'Assemblée: « M. le ministre, vous n'avez pas à faire de bras d'honneur aux députés! », lui répond la présidente de séance Elodie Jacquier-Laforge pic.twitter.com/1YzU0Sdeae— Nils Wilcke (@paul_denton) March 7, 2023
But the president of the session, Elodie Jacquier-Laforge hit back: “Mr minister, you shouldn’t be doing any bras d’honneur towards MPs! This gesture is not acceptable.”
Mr Marleix had been discussing court cases and accusations involving ruling ministers and MPs, including Damien Abad, the Secretary General of the Elysée Palace, Alexis Kohler, and Mr Dupond-Moretti.