French President François Hollande's new 34-member cabinet has been lauded for having 17 women ministers, the same number as men. Here's a look at some of the other eye-catching figures in France’s freshly appointed ministerial club.
A list of 34 new cabinet ministers and junior ministers was unveiled amid excitement and speculation in France on Wednesday evening. The government, picked by French President François Hollande and newly appointed Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, will be holding its first meeting on Thursday.
Half of all the ministry jobs, 17 in total, went to women, in line with Hollande’s campaign promise to respect gender-parity in his government. It is the first time that as many women as men were present in a prime minister’s cabinet. However, only one heavy ministerial portfolio – the justice ministry – went to a woman, the French Guyanese lawmaker Christiane Taubira.
There were other eye-catching figures in Ayrault’s team.
While the government is composed of mostly veteran politicians, with 52 being the average age of an Ayrault minister, 7 appointments went to people under 40. A pair of newcomers are just 34-years old: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who will be in charge of the newly-created ministry of women’s rights, and Sylvia Pinel, now a junior minister in charge of artisans and tourism.
Commentators have been quick to point out that more than half of the ministries, 18 in all, are being headed by non-Parisians. This characteristic is significant because bureaucrats from the French capital traditionally dominate the halls of government, cabinet ministries included.
The list counted only 4 politicians who have served in previous governments. The returning ministers, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, Labour Minister Michel Sapin, and Marylise Lebranchu, minister of state reform, decentralization and public service, all served under former PM Lionel Jospin in the late 1990s.
On Wednesday, 4 nominations went to left-wing politicians outside Hollande and Ayrault’s Socialist Party. Cécile Duflot, leader of the Green party in France, was named minister of housing, while Pascal Canfin, another Green and a member of the European Parliament, is now a junior minister under the ministry of ecology. Justice Minister Taubira and the young tourism chief Pinel hail from the moderate-left Radical Party.
The presence of minorities, a trend that began under former conservative PM François Fillon, is another feature of France’s new government. The cabinet includes 7 people from French ethnic minorities, mostly of Caribbean and North African origins. It also counts Fleur Pellerin, a 38-year-old newcomer who was born in Korea and adopted by a French family when she was six months old.
THE FACES OF FRANCE'S NEW GOVERNMENT
Manuel Valls, prime minister
Spanish-born Manuel Valls, France's former interior minister, is seen as a moderate in the Socialist Party. Valls came last in the party's primaries for the presidential race, and then acted as Hollande’s presidential campaign spokesperson.
Ségolène Royal, minister of environment and energy
François Hollande’s former partner and mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal was reportedly blocked from the 2012 cabinet by Hollande’s then girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler. Royal was the Socialist presidential candidate in the 2007 race against Nicolas Sarkozy.
Laurent Fabius, minister of foreign affairs
Laurent Fabius has been a fixture of French politics for the past 30 years. In 1984, at the age of 37, he became France's youngest-ever prime minister. Eight times elected to parliament, he has also served as finance minister and speaker of France's National Assembly.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, minister of women’s rights, youth and sports
Moroccan-born Rhône councillor Najat Vallaud-Belkacem served as a spokesperson for both Ségolène Royal in 2007 and François Hollande in 2012.
Christiane Taubira, minister of justice
A member of parliament for French Guiana, Christiane Taubira was born in the South American territory in 1952. She is best known for the highly divisive law authorising same-sex marriage, which she championed under ex-Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, minister of defence
President of the regional council of Brittany, Jean-Yves Le Drian is Hollande's long-standing friend. He served as secretary of state for maritime affairs in 1991-1992. As defence minister in the 2012 cabinet, Le Drian oversaw the military operations in Mali and CAR.
Aurélie Filippetti, minister of culture
A Green Party member before joining the Socialists to support Ségolène Royal in 2006, Aurélie Filippetti has been MP for the northeastern constituency of Moselle since 2007. She is one of several 2012 cabinet members who have retained their posts in 2014.
Michel Sapin, finance minister
Former labour minister in the 2012 cabinet, Michel Sapin is a key economics advisor to Hollande and very close to the president, whom he has known since their youth. He has served as a cabinet minister under three former prime ministers.
Arnaud Montebourg, minister of economy and industry
A lawyer by training, Arnaud Montebourg was industry minister in the 2012 cabinet. In 2014, Montebourg was given the expanded title of economy minister with oversight over industry and the digital economy.
Marisol Touraine, minister of social affairs
A former minister of health, Marisol Touraine is also a member of the committee for social affairs at the National Assembly.
Stéphane Le Foll, agriculture minister and government spokesman
A member of the European parliament (MEP) since 2004, Stéphane Le Foll stays on as agriculture minister and has also been named government spokesman. He is Hollande's oldest friend in the cabinet.
François Rebsamen, labour and employment minister
Another close friend of François Hollande, François Rebsamen, the former Socialist mayor of Dijon, was initially tipped to succeed Manuel Valls as interior minister.
Bernard Cazeneuve, interior minister
The big surprise of the 2014 cabinet was Bernard Cazeneuve’s appointment as interior minister, a post vacated by current Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Cazeneuve was previously budget minister and is close to Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Date created : 2012-05-17