France Hollande: New team named after ministers rebel

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls waves as he leaves the Hotel Matignon in Paris, 26 AugustImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Manuel Valls has formed his second government in five months

French President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under PM Manual Valls, dropping ministers who rebelled against austerity cuts.

The first government of Mr Valls, who was appointed less than five months ago, fell on Monday after a row with Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

Mr Montebourg resigned along with two other ministers from the left.

He will be replaced by Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild banker and ex-presidential economic adviser.

President Hollande is seeking a coherent line on economic policy after recent criticism from the left wing of his Socialist Party.

Many see it as his last chance to make a successful presidency, after his recent poll ratings sunk to 17%.

Key portfolios unchanged

For the first time, a woman - Najat Vallaud-Belkacem - will be put in charge of education, replacing Benoit Hamon who also lost his job.

Ms Vallaud-Belkacem was minister for women's rights in the last cabinet.

Meanwhile, Fleur Pellerin has been made minister for culture, replacing Aurelie Filippetti who is also out of the government.

Key ministers in the previous cabinet, like Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Finance Minister Michel Sapin, retain their posts.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Not in the new cabinet: rebel ministers (from left) Arnaud Montebourg, Benoit Hamon and Aurelie Filippetti

Mr Hollande's former partner and the mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, will retain her post as environment and energy minister.

President Hollande said earlier that the new cabinet should "cohere to the directions of the prime minister", who is on the party's right wing.

Prime Minister Valls said he would hold a parliamentary vote of confidence in September or October, speaking in a TV interview after the new ministers were named.

"And you will see, the majority will be there. There can be no other way. If the majority isn't there on that occasion, it would be finished. We couldn't finish our work," he told France 2 TV.

He also defended the choice of a former banker for new economy minister, saying: "So what? Can one not in this country be an entrepreneur? One can't be a banker?"

The BBC's Lucy Williamson, in Paris, says the new economy minister's key selling point is that he shares the president's pro-business, centre-right vision - unlike his predecessor.

But, she adds, the fault lines in the Socialist party and its allies have not gone away, and there is a danger those divisions will simply switch to the National Assembly.

Mr Montebourg quit after publicly urging the government to end austerity policies and focus on growth.

Gavin Hewitt, BBC Europe editor

"What the French crisis has underlined is that the eurozone, despite all the claims of recovery, still has the potential to trouble governments, banks and the wider European economy."

France is struggling with high unemployment and low growth, and Mr Hollande's popularity is the lowest for a president in more than 50 years.

Earlier this month, the French government admitted it would be impossible to reach a previous growth forecast of 1%.

Mr Valls was appointed prime minister on 31 March, to revive the fortunes of the ruling party after it took a hammering at local elections.