|Out with the old, in with the new. Photo: www.dw.de|
After his Socialist Party’s crushing defeat at the polls this past weekend, The Hexagon’s President, François Holande was quick to make like other past Presidents of the Republic: fire the right hand man. So Jean-Marc Ayrault is out, and Manuel Valls is in as the new Prime Minister.
Debates abound on whether Marine Le Pen’s anti-Euro, anti-immigration National Front Party poses a real problem to a left-leaning France or whether the high abstention rates of French voters – at a new historic low of 53% – is the real concern. There have been only two new appointments: Ségolène Royal as Ecology Minister and Manuel Valls; and a number of reshufflings, all of which have made the evening news debates a lot more interesting.
|France’s new ecology minister.Photo source: AP/ Patrick Kovarik|
The real people to watch though are Michel Sapin, who takes over the Finance portfolio, and Arnaud Montebourg who was named Economy Minister – a portfolio that now includes industry and the digital economy. Manuel Valls may have been given the responsibility of ‘managing’ the country under the President, but it’s the appointment of these two – the ones taking over the helm of France’s economy that are under the most pressure.
They will have to steer an economy suffering through its highest unemployment rate at 11%, a slowing growth rate, an extended recession, and a leadership that is seen as either reluctant or unable to implement change. Bonne chance to them!