News24

Hollande to install govt with 'centre-left' agenda

2014-08-26 14:50

Paris - France was set to get a new government with a centre-left agenda on Tuesday, a day after President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls dissolved their 5-month-old Socialist administration following an internal clash on economic policy.

Valls stunned the country on Monday by presenting the government's resignation to Hollande after the economy and education ministers publicly criticised France and Europe's economic policies, charging that they were choking growth.

Valls took the decision in consultation with Hollande, who immediately reappointed him as premier and tasked him with forming a new government that supports the government's centre-left agenda.

The new line-up is to be announced Tuesday afternoon.

Rebellious Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and his ally Education Minister Benoit Hamon, who represent the left wing of the ruling Socialist Party, said on Monday that they would not be part of the new team.

Analysts warned that the move by Hollande to stamp out indiscipline in the government could further alienate a Socialist camp that feels betrayed by his shift from traditional leftist policies to a more business-friendly, fiscally prudent approach.

The party has only a narrow majority in the National Assembly.

Dozens of rebel Socialists have abstained during recent votes on economic legislation.

The exclusion from the government of Montebourg and Hamon could swell their ranks, making it difficult to pass a tough 2015 budget bill.

Hollande and Valls, who together pick a cabinet, are expected to keep some leftist figures on board to try contain the revolt.

Le Monde newspaper reported that Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, a crusading figure who pushed through a gay marriage bill last year, was expected to retain a cabinet posting.

The new government was also expected to include a number of environmentalists.

The French press heaped criticism on Hollande on Tuesday over the latest crisis in his 2-year-old presidency.

In a rare meeting of minds, the leftist Liberation and conservative Le Figaro dailies ran the same front-page headline. "Regime crisis," they proclaimed, alongside pictures of a rain-soaked Hollande at a World War II commemoration ceremony on Monday.

Liberation editor Laurent Joffrin pointed out that Montebourg's criticism of Europe's austerity programmes chimed with concerns raised by the International Monetary Fund, "a slew of Nobel winners," The New York Times and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

While agreeing that "authority is necessary in a government," Joffrin said,: "It [authority] shouldn't always rhyme with austerity".

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