French President Francois Hollande is set to unveil his first cabinet after being sworn in as head of state. Hollande has already chosen both his prime minister and chief of staff, with all eyes now on other key posts.
Hollande, a Socialist, was set to announce the make-up of his cabinet on Wednesday afternoon, with important ministries such as finance, foreign affairs and interior affairs still up for grabs.
Germanophile Jean-Marc Ayrault had already been named as prime minister on Tuesday, when Hollande flew to Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel. Ayrault's appointment as the successor to conservative Francois Fillon is seen as a nod towards good relations with Berlin.
Hollande also announced his chief of staff, Pierre-Rene Lemas, a contemporary of the president from the ENA civil service academy.
The post of finance minister has been linked with Hollande's long-time friend and electoral campaign advisor, Michel Sapin. The trained archaeologist is said to champion a move away from blanket austerity programs in favor of more efforts to stimulate growth.
Two leading contenders have emerged for the post of foreign minister. One is former European affairs minister Pierre Moscovici, who helped steer Hollande's election campaign to victory. The other top candidate is Laurent Fabius, who served as prime minister to President Francois Mitterrand and finance minister to Premier Lionel Jospin.
Stress on youth, education
Manuel Valls - regarded by many within the Socialist party as too right-wing because of his tough line on law and order - is viewed as a likely choice to become interior minister.
Hollande's long-standing friend Jean-Yves Le Drian could become defense minister. However, Fabius has also been mentioned in that role - or as finance minister, if the foreign ministry portfolio goes to someone else.
Martine Aubry, Hollande's former challenger for the presidential candidacy, may head an expanded youth and education ministry. Hollande has pledged to make schools and youth employment a central priority for his administration.
Hollande's political adviser will be Aquilino Morelle, a 49-year-old politician and communications specialist from a working-class Spanish family, who was an aide to former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
rc/ncy (AFP, Reuters)