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Nicolas Sarkozy and François Fillon

New French Government Unveiled

By Matthieu Boisseau

The members of France's new government under reappointed Prime Minister François Fillon were unveiled on Sunday in a statement issued by President Nicolas Sarkozy's office. The long-awaited cabinet reshuffle came one day after Fillon stepped down as prime minister along with his government. Analysts say it is assumed that in naming a new government, President Sarkozy is trying to create a solid base and successful dynamic for his second bid at the 2012 presidential elections.

Change or continuity ?

As Sarkozy was forced to keep his prime minister François Fillon, more popular than him,  atfter pressure from within his UMP part, the reform plan will continue unchanged. This last 18 months before the 2012 elections must allow 'the country to strengthen economic growth for the benefit of jobs, to strengthen solidarity and ensure the safety of all French people' according to Fillon. But this reshuffle is  above all expected to restore Sarkozy's ever-declining popularity, tarnished by several scandals and protest movements. Indeed, with the departure of controversial ministers, Sarkozy intends to draw a line under unpopular pension reforms, which raise the retirement age by two years. It stirred up weeks of strikes around France, including at oil refineries and depots that starved the country of fuel. In other words, François Fillon's third government must breath new life into Nicolas Sarkozy's Presidency. Other grounds for appeasement: the much-criticized Ministry of Immigration and national identity runs no longer standalone but instead it will be merged with the Interior Ministry.
Alain Juppe (left) and Xavier Bertrand (right) have been appointed as Defense Minister and Work, Housing, and Health Minister
Alain Juppe (left) and Xavier Bertrand (right) have been respectively appointed
as Defense Minister and Work, Housing, and Health Minister

 A right-wing cabinet

Sarkozy has packed his new cabinet with popular right wingers, in a move to court the traditional Gaullist wing of his party - like Former premier and foreign minister Alain Juppé as defence minister - while shedding the leftists, such as now ex-Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Sarkozy puts an end to his flirtation with appointing famous leftwing personalities to government, which had annoyed his rightwing base. Some other famous politicians leave the government, like Eric Woerth, accused of taking illegal cash from France's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt to subsidize Sarkozy’s successful 2007 presidential election bid, and Jean-Louis Borloo, a centrist who held the No. 2 post as environmental minister. As he was disappointed at not being named as the new Prime Minister, he declined other posts and resigned from the government. He prefers being freer to express his opinion about Sarkozy's policies, trying to unite the centre-right ahead of the 2012 election. It also proves that Sarkozy's reshuffle, by keeping France suspense for 5 months, has caused bitter rivalries in the French cabinet. In addition, popular Senegal-born Rama Yade's defiance of the President cost her the role of Secretary of State for Sports in the government. Lastly, the leftwing feminist campaigner Fadéla Amara was ejected from her role to improve the riot-hit suburbs. She criticised the "inertia and sectarianism" she had encountered in office. It also marked the end of appointing high-profile women from ethnic minorities
Rama Yade and Bernard Kouchner leave the government
Rama Yade and Bernard Kouchner leave the government

Francois Fillon's Third Government :

Prime Minister: François Fillon
Defence: Alain Juppé
Foreign and European Affairs:Michele Alliot-Marie
Environment, sustainable development, transport and housing: Nathalie Kosciusko Morizet
Justice: Michel Mercier
Interior, overseas, and immigration: Brice Hortefeux
Economy, finance and industry: Christine Lagarde
Budget, civil service, State reform, spokesman: François Baroin
Work, employment, health: Xavier Bertrand 
Education, youth, associations: Luc Chatel
Higher education and research: Valérie Pécresse
Food, agriculture, fishing, and country planning: Bruno Le Maire
Solidarity and social cohesion: Roselyne Bachelot
Culture and communication: Frédéric Mitterrand
Sports: Chantal Jouanno
Cities: Maurice Leroy
Relationships with the Parliament: Patrick Ollier
Delegate Ministers :
Industry, energy, numeric economy: Eric Besson
Cooperation: Henri de Raincourt
Territorial collectivities: Philippe Richert
European affairs: Laurent Wauquiez
Apprenticeship and training: Nadine Morano
Overseas: Marie  Luce Penchard
Secretaries of State :
Foreign trade: Pierre Lellouche
Health: Nora Berra
Housing: Benoist Apparu
Civil service: Georges Tron
Solidarity: Marie-Anne Monchamps
Transports: Thierry Mariani
Trade, craft industry, SMBs, tourism, services, professionals, consumption: Frédéric Lefevre
Youth and associations: Jeannette Bougrab


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