Hollande hopes his reshuffle does the trick

Following on from my last post, Anne Hidalgo (PS) was elected mayor of Paris on Sunday.

However, although Paris, Lyon and other cities remain in the Socialist camp, many others went blue in the second round of the local elections.

Le Monde has a map with a list of communities which voted conservative, some for the first time in decades. Angers (Maine-et-Loire) and La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée) had had PS mayors since 1977. Bobigny’s (Seine-Saint-Denis) story was even more dramatic as it had been Communist-controlled since 1920, the year the PCF was founded.

Another Le Monde graphic — a chart — shows the new makeup of the mayoral landscape.

Abstention reached record-breaking levels in both rounds as Nice-Matin‘s bar chart shows.

Not surprisingly, François Hollande went ahead with his long-mooted cabinet reshuffle. He changed prime ministers on April 1, which was no joke for outgoing Jean-Marc Ayrault, who returned glumly to Nantes by train the following day after his official handover to former Interior Minister [Home Secretary] Manuel Valls.

The big question this week centred on whether this constituted a reshuffle or a new government. Traditionalists on both sides of the political spectrum said that when a new prime minister is named, that means a new government. Others said that as most of the cabinet were retained, it was a reshuffle.

Some, such as Vincent Peillon, former education minister, have not found a role in the new cabinet. Other Socialists, from the past and popular with the French public, find themselves in the limelight once again. Among them is Ségolène Royal, past longtime partner of Hollande’s and presidential candidate in 2007. Le Monde has a page with photos of all the new ministers and short biographies of each.

As for Manuel Valls, his career is progressing the way political pundits predicted two years ago. He is following Nicolas Sarkozy’s path to power, although Sarkozy would have dearly loved the PM spot, which he never received from Jacques Chirac.

The Greens refuse to work with Valls, which explains why they have no ministerial appointments. Some find him too conservative — a Socialist version of Sarkozy — whilst others do not like that he supports bullfighting.

One controversial retention of his is Justice Minister Christiane Taubira. Most political analysts reckon that her relationship with Valls will be an uneasy one. Will she win her justice reforms or will Valls’s law-and-order outlook dominate?

Polls are showing that, although over 60% of the French wanted a reshuffle, now that they have it, the same percentage seem to think it won’t make a bit of difference. Taubira’s presence continues to be the main sticking point; many French are convinced she is on the side of the criminal. Many also object to Sarkozy’s mobile phone having been tapped because of his suspected financial links to Moammar Gaddafi. She claims not to have known about it. Valls is also quiet on the subject.

Speaking of Sarkozy, if the PS put Valls up as presidential candidate in 2017, he is likely to garner quite a bit of support provided his years as Prime Minister go reasonably well. It would be fun to see a Valls-Sarkozy contest; they’re alike in many ways. However, since the judicial investigations have come to light, pundits say Sarkozy’s career is now over. We’ll see.

Right now, it would be relatively easy to get the French on Sarkozy’s side. I said on here two years ago they should have re-elected him because life under Hollande would be a misery. And so it has turned out to be.

4 comments for “Hollande hopes his reshuffle does the trick

  1. April 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

    It is about time the French created a popular new dance-step. Maybe the Hollande Shuffle will emerge. It would be suitable for those rapper fellows with their pants below their arses who gyrate around like (‘scuse I – I was about to say Spastic but I don’t want to offend them ) the ‘strange’ Midnight Oil MP in Oz, Peter Garret. Perhaps it can be called the Hollande Garrotte.

    • April 6, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks — it could catch on!

  2. April 4, 2014 at 10:35 am

    This amount of detail is good, CM and thanks for that. There’s so much going on that it’s hard to keep abreast of it all.

    • April 6, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      You’re welcome, James.

      I listened to a few more RTL (radio) shows at the weekend. At this point — and who knows what the future holds — either Valls or Royal could be primed (in the latter’s case again) to run against the UMP’s candidate of choice in 2017’s GE. (Please let it be Sarko!!)

      The Greens (EELV) like Royal because she is more one of them than she is a Socialist. Indeed, her new portfolio is an old one which she held 20-odd years ago, concerning ecology and the environment.

      Now I better understand why she wandered around in 2007 as an Earth Mother. She often had her hair draped over her shoulders like the Virgin Mary (veil suggestion) and extended her arms outward in the same way.

      One of my French friends thought that she was perfect as a presidential candidate for that reason. I’m less sure. (For those in doubt, that means ‘NOT’.)

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