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Pierre de Saintignon

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Pierre de Saintignon

Pierre de Saintignon (born May 22, 1948) is a French politician. He is member of the French Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, or PS) since 1967.[1] He was elected councilor to the Lille municipality in 1989, 1995, 2001, 2008 and 2014, the first two terms under the Pierre Mauroy's lead and the other three under the Martine Aubry's lead. From 2001, he is the First Deputy-Mayor,[2] in charge of Finance, Economic development and Military matters. In 1998, 2004 and 2010 he was elected councilor the Regional Council of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, where he sits as First Vice-President, in charge of Economical Development.[3] Most of his political career was as a kind of Chief of Staff,[4][5][6] rather than as a foreground person. He is now leading the PS list for the French regional elections, 2015 to be held December 6 and December 13, 2015 for a six years term.

Since the forecasts are not good (below 20% for the first step[7] and below 33% for the second[8]), an alleged lack of notoriety has been put forward as a possible explanation.[9] In this context, an experiment was launched by the Nord Littoral newspaper[10] in order to measure if the candidate is sufficiently well-known to deserve an entry in the French WorldHeritage. The result was a controversy that has been covered at large by the major national newspapers.


  • Childhood and studies 1
  • Intermediate years and move to Lille 2
  • Municipal and regional representative 3
  • The "known for being unknown" controversy 4
  • References 5
    • The chief of staff 5.1
    • The Nord-Littoral experiment 5.2
  • Notes 6

Childhood and studies

Pierre de Saintignon is born May 22, 1948 in Angers, a city in western France, about 300 km southwest of Paris. He is the third in a family of five boys. His mother, Monique Larmoyer, is a speech and language therapist. His father, François de Saintignon (1912–1972), was a lawyer (avocat) before being held prisonner during World War II.[1] After the Liberation he became Directeur de la Population (in charge of Health and Welfare) for the Maine-et-Loir department. The Saintignon were a Lotharingian noble family from Verdun. Notable members of the family were Fernand de Saintignon (1846–1921), ironmaster at Longwy and Pierre Amidieu du Clos (1881–1955), deputy and mayor of Longwy.[6]

During his infancy, Pierre de Saintignon was impaired by dyslexia. Many years after, in an interview, he recalled that Claude Chassagny, founder of the relational pedagogy of language, told to his mother, "put him on a horse, it is the best mediator", before concluding: "the horses have occupied my life for 15 years. It saved me and it's been a great passion".[1] At the end, he reintegrated a standard secondary cursus, obtained his Baccalauréat and started higher studies in Economics.[1]

Intermediate years and move to Lille

Then, living in Paris, he joined in 1967 the SFIO, two years before its replacement by the today's PS.[1] The same year, he entered the Inserm (French Institute of Health and Medical Research, more precisely the CTNEAI (National Technical Center for Impaired Childhood and Adolescence). He endorsed missions in five French departments, one of them at Grenoble, with its mayor Hubert Dubedout (PS). He also did five years of research on child abuse at the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital.[1]

In 1977, he moved to Lille, north of France, to become the administrative director of the Sauvegarde du Nord, an association that supports people facing adversities, mainly young people.[11] From his results, he was recruited in 1990[1] to become a director of Darty, a leader of Electrical retailing in France. He stays 10 years in the group.[12]

Municipal and regional representative

In 1989, Pierre Mauroy, the former French Prime Minister (PS) was elected for the third term as Mayor of Lille. Pierre de Saintignon was one of the municipal councilors elected on the PS list. And from now on, he remains an elected councilor, the respective scores of the PS leaded lists being 53.86%(1989), 48.5%(1995), 49.6%(2001), 66.6%(2008), 52,05%(2014).[2] From the 1989, he is in charge of social insertion and economic development.[6] With the rank of First Deputy Mayor[2] from 2001, when Martine Aubry became Mayor in succession of Pierre Mauroy.

Similarly, Pierre de Saintignon has been elected regional councilor from 1998 onwards. The coalition, PS headed, he was with obtained respectively 45.13% (together) and 51 seats in 1998; 51.84% and 73 seats in 2004; 51,90% and 73 seats in 2010 (each time among 113 seats).[13] With the rank of First Vice-President of the Council, in charge of economic development.[3]

Moreover, he was member of the staff of several Ministers. In 1988, with Michel Delebarre for the Revenu minimum d'insertion (social welfare). In 1991, with Martine Aubry, then Ministre du Travail. In all these circumstances, he is not under the spotlights, and acts rather as a trusted chief of staff.[4] He is often described as a go-between towards the Industry and Finance circles[5] and, more generaly, as an efficient negotiator.[6]

The "known for being unknown" controversy

When it came to select the leader of the PS list for the 2015 regional election, Pierre de Saintignon was chosen. This was described as a gambit:[7] a good knowledge of the place versus leaving the shadow and leading the battle under his own name.[12] In any case, the odds were not good due to the low popularity of both the French President François Hollande and the government's policy. When the name of Pierre de Saintignon was published, the opinion polls gave the PS below 20% for the first round[7] (unless a fusion with other lists occurs before the ballot). In any case, second round PS coalition is forecast as the last of the three lists that are expected to remain in competition. This results into predicting a meltdown of the 2010's 51.90% to only 2015's 32% or less. But, due to the electoral law, the final result is far worse: the 73 elected seats of 2010 for Nord + Pas-de-Calais are expected to melt into only (120*.75)*32%=29 seats! Aggravating the general tendency is the fact that, in the North–Pas-de-Calais–Picardy[3] region, the two other 'second round' lists are conducted by the top mediatic leaders of their respective parties, while their challenger is sometimes described as the "Inconnu du Nord".[14][4]

In a press conference held September 23, 2015, Martine Aubry confirmed the choice of Pierre de Saintignon. and said that such bad polls are partly caused by some PS Minister's behaviour, even stating «Macron ? How to tell it... The cup is full».[15] Backing Emmanuel Macron (appointed 2014 as Minister of Economy), the French Premier replied that Saintignon was something like a casting error, due to a lack of notoriety.[9] During a France Info broadcast an interviewer asked if the lack of a French WorldHeritage entry for Pierre de Saintignon could be held as an objective measure of a low notoriety. Indeed, such an article was created in July,[16] 6358 bits length, but speedy deleted thereafter (in less than two hours). With the verdict: don't fit the criteria, don't deserve a page.

And then, a journalist at the Nord Littoral daily decided to experiment and know better how the meals are cooked inside of the WorldHeritage kitchen.[10] With the obvious pseudonym Nordlittoral, the journalist tried to create again a page about Pierre de Saintignon. Within two hours, while the work was in progress, the page was again speedy deleted and locked. With the same non sequitur: don't fit the criteria, don't deserve a page. And the story turned into a buzz. In the evening, an article by Le Monde[17] and another by Le Figaro,[18] i.e. the main political national newspapers. The next day, at least an article by La Voix du Nord (daily)[19] and columns by Le Nouvel Observateur[20] and RTL.[21]

The conclusion of the Nord Littoral's study was "If the new notoriety of Pierre Saintignon deserves an article, administrators should have let our stub stay as a starting point. Except that the debate on his notoriety must be resolved before we can proceed".[10] In the meantime, the French WorldHeritage page has been undeleted and submitted to a regular review.[22] Will this incident have any influence over the election? An Encyclopedia has to wait the publication of sound scholarly research papers before reporting them.


The chief of staff

  • "First deputy, last faithful" (Premier adjoint, dernier fidèle). L'Express. 2006-04-06. 
  • "Pierre de Saintignon, go-between towards the bosses" (Pierre de Saintignon, tête de pont chez les patrons.  
  • " (Pierre de Saintignon : «Je suis fidèle mais libre»)""Pierre de Saintignon: "I am faithful but free. NordEclair. 2009-08-29. 
  • "Interview de Pierre de Saintignon". Entreprise et Santé, vol. 22. 2013. 
  • "The hidden aspects of Pierre de Saintignon" (Les faces cachées de Pierre de Saintignon). Le Point. 2015-06-16. 
  • "Greater North 2015: Marine Le Pen wins the pools" (Régionales 2015 : Marine Le Pen en tête des sondages pour la grande région Nord). Le Parisien. 2015-06-29. 
  • "Regional elections: Pierre de Saintignon, the gamble of Martine Aubry" (Régionales : Pierre de Saintignon, le pari risqué de Martine Aubry. Le Monde. 2015-07-07. 
  • "Saintignon, the unknown of the North" (Saintignon, l'inconnu du Nord). Le Parisien. 2015-07-12. 
  • "Regional elections 2015: Pierre de Saintignon, kingpin of the PS" (Régionales 2015 : Pierre de Saintignon, cheville ouvrière du PS). Le Point. 2015-10-07. 
  • "Regional elections: in North-Picardy, the PS candidate charged the government" (Régionales: dans le Nord-Picardie, le candidat PS charge le gouvernement). Le Figaro. 2015-10-09. 
  • "Deputy-Mayors". Official web-site of the Lille Municipality. 
  • "Vice Presidents". Official web-site of the North–Pas-de-Calais region. 
  • "Elections/Results/NPdC". France TV Info. 

The Nord-Littoral experiment

  • BenjTison (2015-07-04). Pierre de Saintignonref=harv. WorldHeritage France. 
  • " (Aubry: «Macron ? Comment vous dire... Ras-le-bol»)""Aubry says: "Macron ? How to tell it... The cup is full. Liberation. 2015-09-03. 
  • "Pierre de Saintignon, the PS candidate not known enough to WorldHeritage" (Pierre de Saintignon, le candidat PS pas assez connu pour Wikipédia). BFMTV. 2015-10-12. 
  • "WorldHeritage rejects de Saintignon who, poor player, accuses «Nord Littoral»" (Wikipédia rejette de Saintignon qui, mauvais joueur, accuse Nord Littoral). Nord Littoral. 2015-10-12. 
  • "Pierre de Saintignon, speedy deleted from WorldHeritage ?" (Pierre de Saintignon, supprimé un peu vite de Wikipédia ?). Le Monde. 2015-10-12. 
  • "Why WorldHeritage suppressed the page of the head of the North PS list" (Pourquoi la page Wikipédia de la tête de liste PS dans le Nord a été supprimée). Le Figaro. 2015-10-12. 
  • "WorldHeritage removes the page about Pierre de Saintignon" (Wikipédia supprime une page sur Pierre de Saintignon). La Voix du Nord. 2015-10-13. 
  • "Saintignon, the unknown candidate, even to WorldHeritage?" (Saintignon, le candidat inconnu même de Wikipédia?). Le Nouvel Observateur. 2015-10-13. 
  • "Regional elections 2015: WorldHeritage does not know Peter Saintignon" (Élections régionales 2015: WorldHeritage ne connait pas Pierre de Saintignon). RTL. 2015-10-13. 
  • "Discussion:Pierre de Saintignon/Suppression". French WorldHeritage. 2015-10-16. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Nord Eclair 2009.
  2. ^ a b Lille Municipality.
  3. ^ a b NPdC Region.
  4. ^ a b Express 2006.
  5. ^ a b Le Monde 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d Le Point 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Le Monde 2015t.
  8. ^ Le Parisien 2015.
  9. ^ a b BFMTV 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Nord Littoral 2015.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Le Point 2015o.
  13. ^ France TV Info.
  14. ^ Le Parisien 2015t.
  15. ^ Liberation,2015.
  16. ^ BenjTison 2015.
  17. ^ Le Monde 2015o.
  18. ^ Le Figaro 2015.
  19. ^ La Voix du Nord 2015.
  20. ^ Le Nouvel Observateur 2015.
  21. ^ RTL 2015.
  22. ^ Deletion discussion.
  1. ^ From this date onwards, Pierre de Saintignon stayed in this party, except from one year in the Robert Fabre's party.[1]
  2. ^ leading to 31+30*(1+x%)/2 seats, i.e. 47 seats for the 2014 election
  3. ^ MOS remark: mind the hyphenations !
  4. ^ A probable allusion to "L'inconnu du Nord-Express", the French translation of Strangers on a Train (film)
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