From the school of aesthetics to the State Secretariat for Veterans, Montpellier Patricia Mirallès, minister by “the social staircase”

From the school of aesthetics to the State Secretariat for Veterans, Montpellier Patricia Mirallès, minister by “the social staircase”

Montpellier resident Patricia Mirallès, on the steps of the Elysée, one day of the council of ministers. MAXPPP – Thomas Padilla

At the beginning of February, Ms. Mirallès, 56, was reappointed as Secretary of State for Veterans and Memory. An atypical journey for the Montpellier woman, leaving the aesthetics school before slowly entering politics where she patiently built her rise. Portrait.

In the Pantheon of ministers of the Fifth Republic from Languedoc-Roussillon, there are not that many. There were the Gardois Hélène Dorlhac, Georgina Duviens, Gilbert Baumet and Aurélien Rousseau, the Lozérien Jacques Blanc, the Audois Raymond Courrière, the Biterrois Jean-Claude Gayssot and Georges Fontès. From Montpellier, political incongruity, there was only the mayor… François Delmas in 1978. And, since July 2022, Patricia Mirallès, 56 years old, in charge of Veterans and Memory, reappointed at the beginning of February in her functions within the Attal government.

"Fathering national unity around our History"

At the Pantheon, she was there on Wednesday, on the front line, alongside the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Armed Forces, to welcome Missak Manouchian and his wife Mélinée. On Tuesday, she chaired the vigil around the coffin of the Armenian resistance fighter at Mont-Valérien. A solemn moment. Fort. "These are all of Missak Manouchian's shot comrades who enter the Pantheon with him. In the dark times we live in, it was important to remember that even as a foreigner, we can embrace France and its values, and fight for them", recounts Patricia Mirallès with emotion. She made Memory a priority. "At a time of the last moments of direct transmission of the memory of the Second World War, it is essential to involve young people and their families and to bring together national unity around our History&quot ;, she continues, inexhaustible. For example, she initiated a partnership with the national football league to promote the cornflower, this wild flower which, a pretty symbol, grows back on the ruins battlefields and which we wear in our buttonhole in homage to the Poilus.

And too bad if she is sometimes mocked, described by her detractors as the Secretary of State with wreaths of flowers. "Let them go on the ground with the soldiers who fight to preserve our freedom, who returned wounded in their flesh to fight terrorism in the Sahel or the Levant. Since 1963, in external operations, more than 700 of them have lost their lives. And forecasts predict 500,000 veterans in 2050, she argues, as if to convey the importance of her mission.

"I would have felt like I was abandoning them"

In recent months, she has worked on a new wounded plan which takes better account of families, launched the construction of a village allowing the battered of the army – 500 per year – to rebuild itself, in addition to having negotiated new benefits for widows and orphans or to complete the right to compensation for harkis. "And my mission is far from being finished, I would have had the impression of abandoning them if I had not been reappointed in my functions",< /em> she breathes. Before confiding on this interminable waiting period: "There was once a question that I would be entrusted with another portfolio. But I wanted to keep this one, also to complete the preparation of the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the Liberation. 2024 will be a window of visibility on the duty of memory that I do not want to miss".

For the Renaissance deputy of Hérault Patrick Vignal, this renewal was natural. "She has done the job since her appointment. Patricia is a real hard worker, she is pugnacious. I saw her during Covid, where she received (she contracted long-term Covid, Editor's note). She was very tired, and yet she didn’t give up. With it, you can go to war", he said. The person concerned confirms this work capacity: "I ingest a lot, I document myself. It’s in my nature and I have no choice. I don't have the same background as the others".

On the football field, "she didn't give up"

His journey, precisely. So atypical in this government often criticized for its elitism. Her diploma was not ENA, HEC or Sciences-Po, but… "the regional school of aesthetics of Montpellier& quot;. The daughter of returnees, she grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Lemasson where she played football for a long time, until the then embryonic MHSC women's team. After the baccalaureate, she almost opted for a course as a construction designer. "But I don't regret my choice. I even believe that it was this school that allowed me to be where I am today. I learned respect, deportment, politeness, listening to others", she lists. Already, however, other imperative qualities were emerging for success in politics. Élisabeth Deramond, her friend since college, remembers a young woman"both caring, who left no one behind, and a leader. In our group of friends, she was the pillar, the one who undertook many things. And on the football field where she played center forward, she was the captain, she didn't give up".

From the school of aesthetics to the State Secretariat for Veterans, Montpellier Patricia Mirallès, minister by “the social staircase”

Patricia Mirallès returned to the football field, time to formalize a partnership with the NFL to promote the Bleuet. MAXPPP – SPEICH Frederic

Saleswoman, secretary…

The gold of the Republic, Patricia Mirallès assures that she did not dream of it. "It’was simply inaccessible". She finally entered this world in small steps, first being the collaborator of MP Gilbert Roseau after ten years as a trader, then secretary –"category C" – from Marlène Castre, deputy mayor responsible for the Croix-d’Argent district. Patrick Vignal was already elected and remembers a civil servant who quickly went beyond her duties to campaign. Like me, she came out of the womb of Georges Frêche, learned to take blows and give them. If she left the PS in 2012 to follow Philippe Saurel in his municipal adventure , she nonetheless remained an activist at heart, now for the Macronist party."Same minister, she comes to put up posters and not two minutes time to take a photo", slips Jérôme Toulza, long-time departmental referent Hérault En Marche.

Patricia Mirallès confirms that she loves these moments. "I can't wait to launch the European campaign, tow, organize meetings. Going into combat doesn't scare me, particularly against the extremes. That's what politics is all about, not looking for buzz on social media.

"I was going shopping with "a calculator"

It was this activism that allowed her to be promoted to deputy mayor in her first election under Philippe Saurel, author of a Traffalgar coup in 2014. He then took it helped to become departmental councilor in 2015 then to obtain the En Marche nomination in the 2017 legislative elections. "I was lucky, it’s true, to be on the right wave the first time. But the second, in 2022, believe me, I only owe my victory to work, she believes, recalling this context where many deputies from the majority outgoing party were swept away by the RN or the Nupes. Despite an article against Mediapart on her management of parliamentary expenses – which she strongly contested – a month before the election, she beat her opponent LFI by winning 65% of the votes.

Among those defeated, there was his Gard colleague Françoise Dumas who until then chaired the defense committee in the National Assembly. Patricia Mirallès was his vice-president and had just refined a reparation project for the Harki community, work praised by the head of state. The last step towards a ministry could be taken. "For me, it’s not the elevator but the social staircase that I took. I've had times where I went shopping with the calculator and now here I am. Every day, I tell myself that this is not possible and I seize every second of it. I have always, through my education, my family circle, cultivated humility but I would like this journey to serve as an example, said -she.

"The activist's dream journey"

Jérôme Toulza confirms that the woman who now presides over the Renaissance departmental federation has "the activist's dream career. And the fact of having been nominated again gives her more political weight. She owes this to another of her qualities, loyalty".

Patricia Mirallès talks about loyalty. "We never agree all the time with everyone, but I made a commitment with the President of the Republic, I still believe to his initial project, I would therefore see it through to the end. I'm not one of those who leave the ship when the seas rock", she replies, brushing aside the question of the head of state's right-hand helm. And if Emmanuel Macron asks her to bring Renaissance to Montpellier, where she is still elected in opposition ? "I am in a political party, so I will take my part in this campaign. Which ? What I know is that I don't know what I'll be doing in six months… So 2026 is too far away , responds, as protocol should call it, Madam Minister.

His news in 3 pieces of information

A year of memory

Emmanuel Macron wants to make the 80th anniversary of the Liberation of France a moment of unity national, "to seek the moral forces émentioned during his wishes", relays Patricia Mirallès. The Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs and Memory has therefore been working for many months, with the public interest group "Mission de la Libération", é a dense program of commemorations that the head of state will preside over in Normandy, Provence, & Paris, Oradour-sur-Glane, Strasbourg…

Continue injured plan

Many files are on his desk at the Ministry of the Armed Forces, & start with that of the 2023-2027 injured plan which needs to be finalized. "Out of 116 measures, we have passed some already 80.I also wanted this living plan, with two strategic committees per year to make it evolve as closely as possible to needs". His portfolio also falls on him to manage, an important task, the sobriety plan. energy and biodiversity of all the heritage of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. Its desire, finally, is to open up a little more to international exchanges.

"An eye on Montpellier"

"Montpellier is lucky to have a minister like Patricia", comments Luc Albernhe, who created with her and Annie Yague, the group "Passionn&eac;ement Montpellier" in the municipal council after a split with Philippe Saurel. "When she is here, she is on the ground all the time. And even from Paris, she is still working on the files to lead a committed fight". "He was askedé to keep an eye on Montpellier, confirms J&rôme Toulza, general secretary of Renaissance Hérault.

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