At the Arab World Institute, the secret battle for the presidency between Jack Lang and Jean-Yves Le Drian

“What battle? I am not aware of anything. » In his office, on the eighth floor of Jean Nouvel’s building famous for its moucharabieh facade, Jack Lang claims to be unaware that his place at the head of the Arab World Institute (IMA) is coveted. “When I am somewhere, I am there for eternity”, he slips to make it clear that he is not ready to give up. Appointed in 2013, reappointed twice, he is, at 83, a candidate for a fourth term, although his current contract will in principle expire in early March. And above all, although he is aware that Jean-Yves Le Drian, former foreign minister of Emmanuel Macron, and François Hollande in defense, has expressed his great interest in the post, without being discouraged by the ‘Elysium.

If he remains discreet in public about his intentions, the former head of French diplomacy, who left the government in May 2022 after the re-election of the head of state, is aware that the president of the IMA , yet eight years his senior, does not want to drop out. But the entourage of Emmanuel Macron, where it is indicated that “nothing is confirmed”, would seriously consider his candidacy. It is indeed the President of the Republic who proposes the name of the boss of the IMA, before the “high council” of the Institute, composed of ambassadors from Arab countries and French representatives, decides.

“An additional mandate, for what? »asks a supporter of Jean-Yves Le Drian, arguing that it is time to make the institution of the banks of the Seine “a real tool of geopolitical influence” in a world and a sensitive region that the Breton socialist crisscrossed in all directions before hanging up after ten years at the head of sovereign ministries. An experience put forward by those around him, the management of the institute having, from Edgar Pisani to Dominique Baudis, never been a preserve of experts in cultural issues. “The IMA is not the museum of the Arab world and must evolve, broaden its scope in the battle for global influence opened by Russia and China”slips a relative, annoyed that Jack Lang is multiplying to make it clear that he wants to stay in his post.

“I have energy to spare”

“I’m in great shape, I have energy to spare, I’m here night and day! », assures the indestructible ex-socialist minister of culture, whose shadow still hovers over French cultural life. He wrote it two weeks ago to Emmanuel Macron, who has not yet reacted. He also repeats it in a thick report, cleverly unencrypted, preceded by a lyrical preface of which its author has the secret. His title ? The IMA, passion of a lifetime. And to unfold over 348 pages his cultural report, which he will defend on February 2 during a conveniently organized press conference: creation of the IMA comedy club, multiplication of forums on feminist and LGBTQ + issues, success of exhibitions… A final chapter, entitled “State support”, illustrates in four photos of hugs his closeness to Emmanuel Macron.

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