Alternate History

Gustave Gaillard (Napoleon's World)

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Gustave Nicolas Gaillard (December 18, 1904 - October 5, 1991) was a French politician and bureaucrat who served as head of the Imperial Rail Authority from 1952 until 1977, when he was suddenly sacked by Emperor Albert II. As head of the ARI, Gaillard emerged as one of the most powerful and corrupt men in the Empire, coming to symbolize the cronyism and ugliness of the French statist economy in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Like many other heads of nationalized corporations who remained in their positions for lengthy periods, Gaillard extracted tribute from businesses, fixed prices, funneled both government and private money into his own account and lived an opulent lifestyle, often without impunity. Because he controlled heavy, light and subway rail, he was considered to "sit at the crossroads of French industry" and was regarded as one of the most powerful men in the Empire. He filled the ARI with his allies, undercut the Ministry of Transportation's other departments and made sure that the railworker's unions were headed by pliable officers who would respond to his strike demands if requested. Due to his outsized influence by the early 1970s, Emperor Sebastien ordered a Cabinet reshuffle to install a new Minister of Transportation, Frank Sutter, who took on Gaillard head-on and restructured the ARI, splitting up its components. As part of the battle, Gaillard managed to force multiple strikes amongst railworkers, construction workers and ARI employees. Once Sebastien died, Sutter was even more emboldened, and Gaillard was finally fired in 1977 at the age of 72. He later served time in prison on corruption charges after being convicted in 1984, and died under house arrest in 1991.

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