INTERVIEW – Olivier Véran: Down with the masks! – Gala

The government spokesperson recounts his daily life as a minister and its repercussions on his intimate life. In a book, he looks back on the season in hell he experienced during the Covid crisis as Minister of Health. Meet.

Last spring, before slipping to Emmanuel Macron that he wanted to be part of a new government, Olivier Véran consulted his children. “They gave me the green light. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone”, he confides. The former Minister of Health, now government spokesperson and Minister Delegate for Democratic Renewal, dedicates his book to them Beyond the waves (ed. Robert Laffont.) “No testimony can replace absence. But it can give it meaning”, he writes to Nina and Romain, aged 9 and 12, in the epigraph of his diary.

His story begins at the start of the Covid crisis, in February 2020. Olivier Véran says that his first phone call, when confinement then became inevitable, was reserved for their mother. A doctor, too, from whom he has been divorced for several years. “I was aware of the mental load that this would place on her”he admits to Gala. The Minister had never before felt the need to write. The looming health crisis was the trigger. Today he talks about his victories and his doubts, makes his mea culpa on the mask file…

Basic apartment and 6,500 euros net per month

He also describes the somewhat basic apartment he discovered on his arrival at the Ministry of Health. “It had a bed with an orthopedic mattress that dated from the 1980s and creaked”, he laughs. Before revealing his salary: “I earn 6,500 euros net per month, taxes deducted”. “I wrote it in black and white because it’s the first question people ask me on social networks”, he justifies himself. “I wanted to create transparencyhe says again. Politicians are often criticized for being too dehumanized. I want to keep feeling things. Let me touch without letting me sink!”

Olivier Véran strives to play his card on the table. He confides how, on the advice of his communicator, he attempted to slow his speech, slicked back his locks of hair, and opted for better-tailored suits. He realized that the form can sometimes overwhelm the content. Less anecdotally, he admits having been tempted one day for a few hours to hide that he had just tested positive for Covid. “I hesitate then because there are so many things to dohe wrote. Because I fear the reaction of anti-vaccine activists. Having had my three doses, I would not like my example to serve those who want to believe that these do not protect. But I feel like it’s silly to think that.”

“Dizziness, nausea, headache. I was seized with a feeling of disgust and paralysis at the idea […] to express myself”

He also evokes the beginnings of burnout, felt one day after a Defense Council. He slept, then, only three hours a night for long days. “Dizziness, nausea, headaches. I was seized with a feeling of disgust and paralysis at the thought of walking into a room, sitting down and expressing myselfhe recalls. This had never happened to me before. I said to myself that I had to change something and took up meditation and boxing.”

Since his ascent to the highest echelons of the State, the man has also been able to measure how political life could be devastating for intimacy. He wants to believe that one can have a sentimental life when one is a minister. “But the days that end at one o’clock in the morning, it’s not a gift for loved ones”, he confides. In his book, he thus recounts that his companion at the time (ex-MP Coralie Dubost, editor’s note) was present at his side when a search was carried out at his home as part of an investigation into the management of the health crisis. “We had just declared a state of health emergency throughout the country, I experienced it as a strong injustice”, he confesses. That day, however, he did not depart from his humor, faced with the fifteen people who had just arrived at his home at 6 a.m. “Look carefully under the bed. The millions of masks you’re looking for, that’s where I stashed them…”he quips, before being surprised that one of the investigators comments, while scanning on his iPad, the series he watched the day before: gears. “I start from the principle that the tests must help us to move forwardhe says today. I’m not complaining about anything and there are still things I want to push forward.”

Olivier Véran has retained some habits from this period. He continues the meditation, “ten minutes two to three times a week”. He happens to watch the broadcasts of MMA competitions on Saturday evenings. Does he know that Fabien Roussel’s son-in-law is a champion in this sport? Yes. He has already seen it on TV, in the ring. He prefers to practice kickboxing once or twice a week. This music lover, who plays several instruments including the ukulele and the accordion, has also taken up the piano “autodidact”, five years ago. In terms of series, he admits to having gone to Euphoria. And especially appreciate Succession. Premonitory?

This meeting can be found in Gala N°1531, available this Thursday, October 13.

Photo credits: Stephane Lemouton / Bestimage

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INTERVIEW – Olivier Véran: Down with the masks! – Gala

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