The French papers are all analyzing Sarkozy’s limited cabinet reshuffle this morning. What are the aims behind it? What does it tell us about Sarkozy’s priorities and about the famous divisions in the UMP party? TUESDAY, 23rd MARCH, 2010
For the right-leaning Le Figaro, Sarkozy’s reshuffle is ‘limited but symbolic’. Most notable is the promotion of Eric Woerth, former Budget Minister, to the important Employment portfolio. Sarkozy’s big priority for 2010 is to reform retirement. The current retirement age in France is 60, one of the lowest in Europe and Sarkozy is determined to change this. As such, the success of his presidency now rests on the shoulders of Eric Woerth.
Le Parisien calls Woerth the new “golden boy”. Indeed, some of the papers say he could now be in with a shot of being made Prime Minister once François Fillon stands down as is expected within the next year.
Also in le Figaro, there is a profile of François Baroin who will replace Woerth as Budget Minister. What’s of particular interest here in Baroin’s close ties to former President, Jacques Chirac. Baroin is now the first member of Chirac’s political clan to enter into Sarkozy’s government. The importance of this is that it demonstrates Sarkozy’s desire to restore ties with Chirac’s political loyalists. As it stands, there is a huge division in the UMP party between those who were once close to Jacques Chirac and those who are close the Sarkozy.
Libération’s editorial also reflects on the reshuffle. Not alone was a Chirac-loyalist brought in from the cold, a Villepin loyalist, George Tron was also given a government position as Junior Minister for the Civil Service. Libération says these nominations are a bid to silence the UMP’s internal critics.