Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

TALKING EUROPE

Nigel Farage, Leader of the UK Independence Party

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Endocrine disruptors: Is the EU doing enough to protect its citizens' health?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Israelis taking bomb shelter selfies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Pavlo Klimkin, Ukrainian Foreign Minister

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Raed Fahmi, former Iraqi Minister of Science and Technology

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Germany's World Cup title

Read more

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Farnborough air show takes off but F-35 jet is grounded

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Bastille Day celebrations

Read more

  • France commemorates WWI centenary on Bastille Day

    Read more

  • In pictures: 2014 World Cup historic moments

    Read more

  • Kremlin mulls 'retaliatory strikes' after death of Russian civilian

    Read more

  • Boules and booze: Bastille Day à la New Yorkaise

    Read more

  • Senegal honours the soldiers who fought for France in WWI

    Read more

  • Clashes erupt in Paris as thousands march to support Palestinians

    Read more

  • Shipwrecked Costa Concordia successfully refloated

    Read more

  • Germany defeat Argentina 1-0 to win fourth World Cup title

    Read more

  • Paris’s Bastille Day fireworks ‘a homage to victims’ of WWI

    Read more

  • Thousands flee northern Gaza after Israeli warning

    Read more

  • Major differences remain as deadline looms in Iran nuclear talks

    Read more

  • Rival Libyan militias exchange heavy fire at Tripoli airport

    Read more

  • French military to extend Mali 'counterterrorism' operations into Sahel

    Read more

France

Can the cabinet reshuffle save President Sarkozy?

©

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-11-18

After a tumultuous year for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he is now embarking on a cabinet reshuffle that was first mooted in May after a humiliating defeat of his government in local elections.

It has not been an easy year for French President Nicolas Sarkozy or his administration.

His approval ratings - at 30% - are at an all time low, and his government has endured a string of crises and controversies.

WHO GOT WHAT?
  • Finance Minister: Christine Lagarde
  • Interior Minister: Brice Hortefeux
  • Defence Minister: Alain Juppé
  • Foreign Affairs Minister: Michèle Alliot-Marie
  • Education Minister: Luc Chatel
  • Justice Minister: Michel Mercier
  • Labour Minister: Xavier Bertrand
  • Agriculture Minister: Bruno Le Maire
  • Culture Minister: Frédéric Mitterrand


The reshuffle comes at a crucial moment for Sarkozy’s UMP party which needs to regain the trust of the electorate ahead of the 2012 presidential elections. The party has been battered by political scandals, the unpopular pension reform and the widely criticised crackdown on illegal Roma (gypsy) camps.

Eyeing the 2012 presidential vote

Now that the controversial pension bill, which raises the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, has finally been passed into law, the French president feels he is finally in a position to ‘refresh’ his cabinet in anticipation of a tough fight to stay in power beyond 2012.

Sarkozy has packed his new cabinet with popular right wingers - like ex-Prime Minister Alain Juppé - while shedding the leftists, such as now ex-Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. The president has chosen to keep the ‘stars’ of his cabinet, including Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

Sarkozy is looking to solidify support with the grassroots of the UMP ahead of the polls. The president's first move was to reinstate Prime Minister Francois Fillon, one of the few UMP leaders to enjoy genuine popular support among French conservative voters.

According to Stephane Rozes, president of French political think tank CAP, "Now that Fillon has been confirmed in his position, Sarkozy can concentrate on opening up his right-wing agenda on themes such as security and immigration" ahead of the 2012 election.

This move however may also be a case of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. Denis Jeambar, former editor-in-chief of “l’Express” newspaper, told FRANCE 24 that Sarkozy needed to keep his faithful partner in government close, “because if Sarkozy got rid of Fillon, he would immediately become the president’s natural rival in the 2012 presidential election.”
Meanwhile, the Socialists are sensing Sarkozy’s attempt to launch a fight back and have already fired off an opening salvo. The party swiftly attacked Sarkozy’s decision to stick with Fillon, arguing that it is an admission of weakness on his part.

"It's a president in trouble, who was looking for a way to bounce back, and in the end couldn't find one," Jean-Marc Ayrault, leader of the Socialist opposition's parliamentary group told French network BFM on Sunday.

Response to a drubbing at the polls

The reshuffle was first mooted back in March - after the UMP suffered a humiliating drubbing in regional elections - as a way of telling voters that the government understood their concerns.

But in June, Sarkozy insisted that he wanted to complete his controversial pension reform - which resulted in massive strikes and protests - before changing his government.

These plans were undermined when Labour Minister Eric Woerth became embroiled in allegations of illegal financial dealings with France’s richest woman Liliane Bettencourt.
Woerth, who spearheaded the controversial pension reforms, has been accused of taking illegal cash from Bettencourt to help fund Sarkozy’s successful 2007 presidential election bid.

The scandal dominated the headlines in France, and made Sarkozy’s administration appear to be one that pandered to the rich while embarking on a reform programme that would make the lives of millions of average French citizens that much harder.

Sarkozy took the opportunity of the cabinet reshuffle to ditch the unpopular Woerth, and thus draw a line under a damaging scandal that, despite his best efforts, would not go away.

UMP Senator Fabienne Keller told FRANCE 24: “The government is perceived by many as favouring the rich, especially in fiscal policy while too many ordinary French people feel abandoned.”

The French public will get to have their say in the polling booths in 2012.

Date created : 2010-11-14

  • FRANCE

    Fillon reappointed premier, tasked with forming new government

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French government resigns ahead of planned reshuffle

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French PM François Fillon pulls away from Sarkozy

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)