French Interior Minister Manuel Valls named new PM

Paris: French President Francois Hollande has named Interior Minister Manuel Valls to head his new “fighting” executive team, replacing Jean-Marc Ayrault after the Socialists suffered a severe setback in local elections.

“It’s time to move to a new stage. So, I told Manuel Valls to lead France’s government. It will be a limited, coherent and united team, a fighting governement,” Hollande announced Monday during a televised speech addressed to French people.

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The reshuffle of Hollande’s first government came after the Socialist Party (PS) was uprooted from 155 towns that had swung to the center-right UMP in a race dominated by the conservatives, Xinhua reported.

Weakened by splits between government members and an alarming number of job-seekers, the PS collected 42 percent of the votes, seven percentage points behind UMP.

“At the last municipal elections, by voting or abstaining, you have expressed your dissatisfaction and disappointment,” the president said.

“I heard your message, it is clear. Not enough changes and too much slowness. Not enough jobs and too many unemployed. Not enough social justice and overtaxes,” he added.

With the 51-year-old centrist new prime minister, a security hardliner and advocate of pro-business ideas, Hollande seeks to earn again the Socialists’ spurs after their heavy defeat in the mayoral run-off.

In the seven-minute televised speech, the French head of state added the new cabinet would work to transform the promise of change, lower unemployment, green economy and more social justice into concrete doings by injecting fresh breath via “the responsibility pact.”

“It is an act of trust for all economic actors and social partners. That is the issue. It is decisive for the future of our country. Produce more and better, produce in France,” the president reitereated.

Immediately after the announcement of Hollande’s appointment of Valls, Housing Minister Cecile Dufflot and Deputy Minister in Charge of Development Pascal Canfin, both from the Green Party, said the new prime minister was “not an adequate response to the problems of the France”, refusing to take part in the new government.