France’s new PM readies fresh cabinet
PARIS FRENCH President Francois Hollande’s new Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault got to work selecting a cabinet on his first day on the job on Wednesday, vowing to get the crisis-hit country back on its feet.
Ayrault, a former German teacher, lawmaker and longtime Hollande ally, bade farewell to former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s premier Francois Fillon and said his first cabinet would meet on Thursday, a public holiday.
“The government will be ready and set up by the end of this afternoon,” Ayrault, 62, told journalists before heading off to the Elysee Palace to put his cabinet suggestions to Hollande.
“What’s essential, and that’s why the cabinet will meet as soon as Thursday, is to get quickly to work to allow France to get back on its feet in a just way,” he said.
A presidential spokesman said the cabinet line-up would be announced “late in the day” on Wednesday.
Like Hollande, who on Tuesday became France’s first Socialist president since 1995, Ayrault has never previously held a ministerial post, but he is mayor of Nantes, a veteran parliamentarian and seen as a consensus builder.
Hollande has been criticised for naming Ayrault, who has a conviction for favouritism in awarding a local government contract, with opponents noting that as candidate he promised not to work with anyone with a criminal record.
He was named to the job of prime minister over other potential candidates, including Socialist Party leader and former labour minister Martine Aubry, who said she had agreed there was no place for her in a government led by Ayrault.
“In such a set-up, we agreed, amicably, that there was no sense in my being in government,” Aubry said.
“There was no proposal and no negotiation.” “What’s certain is that I will campaign for the parliamentary election. All three of us agreed that, under the circumstances, where I can be most useful is at the head of the Socialist Party to be close to Jean- Marc Ayrault,” she said.