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Green Party threatens to quit French government

© Photo: AFP

Video by Stephen Carroll

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-04

France’s Green Party (EELV) are “not far from quitting the government” it said Wednesday, in the wake of the abrupt sacking of Environment Minister Delphine Batho.

French President François Hollande’s Socialist government faces a fresh headache Wednesday, after its Green Party (EELV ) junior coalition partner threatened to quit the government following the abrupt sacking of Environment Minister Delphine Batho.

Batho was fired after she dared to criticise a decision to slash the environment ministry’s budget by seven percent – cuts that are part of a wider austerity trim that will see the first drop in overall government spending since 1958.

“It’s a bad budget,” Batho complained to RTL radio on Tuesday. The 40-year-old, a member of the ruling Socialist Party, was immediately summoned by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and given her marching orders. She has been replaced by another Socialist, Philippe Martin.

Batho, who in September 2012 launched the government’s ecological energy transition roadmap [moving France away from dependence on nuclear energy and towards greener renewable sources] is the second environment minister to be removed from office in a year.

‘An inconvenient bad smell’

EELV lawmakers despaired Wednesday of the government’s attitude towards their party and to environmental issues, saying their cooperation with their Socialist partners was at risk, while complaining that few meaningful steps had been taken to progress energy transition.

Jean-Vincent Placé, head of the EELV group in the upper Senate, told BFMTV Wednesday that his party was “not far from quitting the government” and was unlikely to approve a budget that threatened its environmental agenda.

Noël Mamère, an EELV member of the lower National Assembly, told Europe 1 radio: “The government has got rid of two environment ministers in the space of a year, as if they were an inconvenient bad smell.

“We really have to start thinking about our relationship with the government. Should we carry on playing the role of the useful idiot who is convenient window dressing for a government that is patently not interested in its official policy of energy transition?”

Government defends sacking

On Wednesday, Hollande’s government defended removing Batho on the grounds that she broke a cardinal ministerial rule forbidding open criticism of cabinet decisions.

“Delphine Batho totally ignored the important principals of solidarity and government cohesion,” said government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. “Yes, we can debate these issues among ourselves, but once decisions have been made, all ministers must accept shared responsibility.”

“The environment remains a government priority ... but so are our budget responsibilities,” she told reporters. “Budgetary concerns do not exclude the environment.”

Date created : 2013-07-03

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