Paris (AFP)

Former Minister and President of the Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee, Marielle de Sarnez, who died Wednesday at 69, was François Bayrou's right-hand man, and notably played an essential role in defining a Modem freed from the cleavage right left.

The ephemeral former Minister of European Affairs, who suffered from leukemia, died at the Parisian hospital of Pitié-Salpêtrière, announced to AFP the president of the MoDem who, very moved, paid tribute to a woman "so talented and so brave".

Slender silhouette, blond hair, casual chic allure - jacket, jeans and sneakers - Marielle de Sarnez has shared her political life between Paris and Europe.

Elected municipal in the capital, after having made an alliance with Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, she was also a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2017.

His appointment in May 2017 in the first government of Edouard Philippe as Minister of European Affairs should have been the crowning of his career.

But she will only stay for a month and four days.

The opening in the following June of a preliminary investigation by the prosecution in the case of the alleged fictitious jobs of the assistants of the European deputies of the centrist party led her to resign, like François Bayrou, ephemeral Minister of Justice.

Invested in the wake of the legislative elections by LREM, she was elected Member of Parliament for Paris (11th constituency) and took over the presidency of the prestigious Foreign Affairs Committee of the Assembly.

In December 2019, Ms. de Sarnez was indicted as a MEP for "embezzlement of public funds", for having used her former assistant Karine Aouadj for personal tasks although she was paid from European funds.

- "My alter ego" -

Renewed in December 2020 to the function of 1st vice-president of the MoDem, she was never very far from its president François Bayrou, and formed with him a rather singular political couple.

"Marielle is my alter ego. She is the person in my political life whose judgment I trust the most. Her compass is 95% correct", said of her in 2017 the one who has since become Haut- Planning Commissioner.

"Our relationship is human before being professional. His presence is very precious to me. We talk about everything and most of the time, we understand each other without needing to say anything. We have agreed intuitions," added the centrist leader.

Born in Paris in the 8th arrondissement, Marielle de Sarnez has spent much of her career there.

President of the UDF Paris federation in 2006 and then of the MoDem Paris in 2008, she was elected Paris councilor in 2001 in the 14th arrondissement on an RPR-UDF union list.

Beaten in the legislative elections in 2007, in 2008 she returned to a seat on the Paris Council on a MoDem list (9.08% in the municipal elections) before resigning in April 2010 to devote herself to her mandate as MEP.

This woman in the shadow of the great presidential battles of François Bayrou has often been described as authoritarian by some of the former friends of the centrist leader.

"She has authority", but "to find a place in this political world of guys, she had no choice", said in 2017 Jean-Luc Bennahmias, who left the MoDem at the time of the alliance with Jean-Louis Borloo's UDI for the 2014 Europeans.

Marielle de Sarnez had defended in July 2009 in Marseille the principle of an opening from the center to the left, during summer workshops of the current "Hope on the left" of the socialist Vincent Peillon.

For many, it was the founding act of the evolution of the centrist party that led François Bayrou to cross the rubicon in 2012 by choosing François Hollande in the second round of the presidential election.

Entering politics in 1973 with a baccalaureate in her pocket, as a simple part-time secretary for the young republicans, Marielle de Sarnez immersed herself in the electoral bath a year later by supporting the presidential campaign of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

© 2021 AFP