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Yves Guéna, the faithful of the faithful of Gaullism

This Breton who knew what he wanted was going to do the African campaign and the Normandy landings in 1944. It was because of a serious injury in Alençon that he became Périgord, meeting a young nurse. Oriane de la Bourdonnaye, who had links with the Dordogne, thanks to the family castle of Chantérac where she spent her holidays. And he too, with soon to be seven children. After joining the first promotion of the National School of Administration (ENA) in 1946, he held a position in Morocco before returning to France to the Council of State, then to integrate ministerial cabinets. His loyalty to De Gaulle led him to participate in the small group that drafted the Constitution of the Fifth Republic in 1958, before entering the cabinet of Prime Minister Michel Debré in 1959.


He was a soldier during the Second World War, in North Africa.

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Left-wing Gaullist

When Yves Guéna got into politics, he chose Périgord and the first constituency of Périgueux where the Château de Chantérac is located. “In this radical department, he then presented himself with a left-wing Gaullist label, that of the Democratic Labor Union, the UDT, highlighting his past as a free Frenchman and his family ties so as not to ‘they say he was parachuted,’ explains historian Bernard Lachaise who has worked on the left-wing Gaullists (1).

It was certainly strategic, but not only: “He had social fiber and, in 1962, a period marked by the Algerian war, he stood out. What succeeded for him since he was elected, in front of the only Gaullist deputy of the department, by beating Raoul Rousseau who was rather French Algeria.

Guéna was re-elected several times until 1981 on this seat, but he failed in the cantonal elections of 1964 and the municipal elections of Périgueux in 1965. He was however rewarded for his conquest of a radical stronghold and, for his loyalty to General , being appointed in 1967 Minister of PTT in a government of Georges Pompidou. This allowed him to favor the Dordogne in order to obtain the decentralization of the Stamp Printing Office which opened in Boulazac in 1970.

At the end of May 1968, he obtained the post of Minister of Information responsible for restoring order to the ORTF, which led to demonstrations by dismissed personnel as far away as Périgueux! He then moved to the Ministry of Transport in 1973, improving the Périgueux-Limoges-Paris train connection and having Roissy airport named after Charles de Gaulle. In 1974, he held his last post as Minister for Industry, Trade and Crafts.

In 1968, Yves Guéna was Minister of Information at the time of the great ORTF strikes.

In 1968, Yves Guéna was Minister of Information at the time of the great ORTF strikes.

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The Spirit of the Resistance

It also imposed itself in the Dordogne by relying on the communists, against the radicals and the socialists, by playing on common values ​​resulting from the Resistance. Bernard Lachaise summed it up well in “L’Histoire de Périgueux”, published by Fanlac: “Their relations have always been marked by mutual respect linked to the Resistance, but also to sometimes similar visions in terms of foreign policy, nationalism or rejection of a federal Europe, by voting no for example in the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. »

He had also formulated it when he had awarded the Legion of Honor to the former communist resistant leader Roger Ranoux: “We do not have the same vision of society in all respects, but the essential unites us… We find ourselves neck and neck on the battlefields when France is in danger. And if the Republic is threatened, we sometimes even find ourselves at the polls. »

In 1970, Yves Guéna won his first seat on the General Council, where he remained elected until 1989, when he regularly clashed with the Socialists. He was also a senator for Dordogne from 1989 to 1997. His reference victory was his conquest of the city of Périgueux in 1971, of which he remained mayor for more than twenty-five years, until 1997, when he was appointed to the Constitutional Council. . He attached his stature as a statesman to the image of the Dordogne prefecture, which he helped open up and modernize by taking advantage of his Parisian network. He obtained, for example, the installation of a police academy after the closing of the vast barracks of the 5th Regiment of hunters.

On the countryside through the Dordogne in the 1970s.

On the countryside through the Dordogne in the 1970s.

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During the eventful change of majority in the General Council in 1992.

During the eventful change of majority in the General Council in 1992.

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Yves Guéna celebrated 25 years of establishment in the Dordogne.

Yves Guéna celebrated 25 years of establishment in the Dordogne.

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References to the General

The national destiny of Yves Guéna was marked by his appointment as President of the Constitutional Council, from 2000 to 2004, replacing another Périgord statesman, Roland Dumas. He was also president of the Charles-de-Gaulle Institute and then of the foundation of the same name. And he chaired, from 2004, the Arab World Institute in Paris.

He left many memories in the Dordogne where he took part in many political fights, even taking the defeat of his successor Xavier Darcos very badly as mayor of Périgueux. He embodied Gaullism and even more the memory of the General in Dordogne by organizing every June 18, whatever the day of the week, a republican banquet. He had adopted the motto “Once a Gaullist, always a Gaullist”. Like his mentor, he was suspicious of Germany and Europe, and the star-spangled flag did not enter the town hall of his time. He did not miss the dummies in history who, on May 8, spoke of the Armistice of 1945, recalling that the Armistice was after the rout of 1940 and Victory in 1945!

Guéna died in Paris on March 3, 2016 at the age of 93. He is buried in Chantérac. A square bears his name in Périgueux and an avenue in Neuvic. On July 6, 2022 he would have been 100 years old. Bernard Lachaise, a specialist in Gaullism, quite naturally decided to organize a symposium on Yves Guéna, which will take place in October in Périgueux.

The condolence book after his death in 2016.

The condolence book after his death in 2016.

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