Okay, there we go again. I started translating: slipper = pantoufle
. Followed by a google search: pantoufle + service public. Followed by a direct landing - once again - on the Wikipedia website
, about the almost eternal mix / thin lines between the French public service and private (?) enterprise. High ranking officials being parachuted in private sector functions. Because when you are one of the happy ENA or École Polytechnic students you can do everything. As long as Paris likes you. Until a minister thinks, let's get rid of him or her to save my own political life.
Nice example in Lemonde, January 25th, 2010: " En juillet 2009, le PDG d'EDF d'alors, Pierre Gadonneix, avait réclamé une hausse de 20 % des tarifs de l'électricité en France sur trois ou quatre ans, afin de financer les investissements du groupe, une déclaration qui avait été vivement critiquée par le gouvernement, et qui lui avait valu son poste. C'est Henri Proglio qui lui a succédé à la tête de l'entreprise publique
From the English Wikipedia another element to understand the French way of doing it:
<< The term "pantouflage" also applies to politicians who, following an electoral loss or a termination from a ministerial position, assume a private industry, high-paying position without significant responsibilities. This is often undertaken during an interim period when formerly elected politicians vet new opportunities to assume elected office. French popular phrasing describes this scenario as "Emploi fictif," or fake employment. >>