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France unveils new cabinet

April 2, 2014

France's new cabinet has been announced following a significant re-shuffle. The line-up includes Segolene Royal as environment and energy minister. Royal is a former partner of President Francois Hollande.

Hollande and Valls shake hands on April 2, 2014
Image: Reuters

The new look cabinet was announced by way of a presidential statement read out on the steps of Hollande's Elysse Palace on Wednesday following discussions between Hollande (pictured, right) and new French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (pictured, left). The mid-term shake-up comes days after their ruling Socialist Party suffered a crushing defeat in municipal elections and one day after Valls officially took office.

It marks the return of former Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal to the national political stage. Royal was badly defeated in her attempt for a parliamentary seat in 2012. She has now been appointed minister for ecology, energy and sustainable development. She is also Hollande's former partner and mother to his four children.

Michel Sapin, a longtime ally of Hollande and the labor minister in the last government, was named to the powerful post of finance minister while Arnaud Montebourg will be in charge of industry and economy. The two posts incorporate the responsibilities of former finance minister Pierre Moscovici, who was left out.

Holding on

Several government ministers held on to their positions, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira. Altogether, the new cabinet has 16 ministers, with no deputy minister positions.

Valls, 51, was appointed the new premier by President Francois Hollande on Monday, replacing Jean-Marc Ayrault, who resigned after the Socialists suffered a decisive defeat in local elections. The March 30 vote, which was seen as a referendum on Hollande's two years in power, saw the Socialists lose more than 150 towns, with a strong swing in the direction of the opposition Union for a Popular Movement (UNP) and the far-right National Front (FN) parties.

Hollande, who is struggling with his government's unpopularity in the face of a stagnant economy, high unemployment and declining living standards, promised a "tight, coherent and united" cabinet to replace Ayrault's team.

se/jlw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)