New French president-elect Hollande tackles forming government
The official results are in. Socialist candidate François Hollande won 51.62 per cent of the vote over incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy with 48.38 per cent in Sunday evening’s presidential run-off. Hollande will not officially take up residence at the Elysée Palace until 15 May, but he is already working on putting together a government to deal with the difficult challenges ahead.
The job of prime minister is crucial and seen as setting the tone for the whole government. Names topping the list include parliamentary leader Jean-Marc Ayrault, Martine Aubry, the author of the 35-hour work week, and communications director Manuel Valls.
According to some party insiders, Ayrault has been groomed for the post over the past few weeks. He has been head of the Socialist group in parliament since 1997 and is the mayor of the western city of Nantes. He was already slated to become prime minister in the event of a victory by socialist candidate Segolene Royal in the 2007 presidential election.
Martine Aubry, the 61 year-old daughter of the leader of the European Commission Jacques Delors, is the favourite in opinion polls, but not with Hollande himself.
The two faced each other in a bitter battle to become the Socialist presidential candidate in this year’s election. At the time, Aubry suggested Hollande would represent the ‘soft left’ and accused him of having a ‘right-wing’ bent.
If she is not given the prime minister’s job, she has identified the culture ministry as a possible place for her.
Hollande’s communications director Manuel Valls was relatively unknown before the presidential campaign, but the 50-year-old deputy mayor of Evry, one of the suburbs south of Paris, has shown his worth during the campaign and could represent a new generation of socialist ministers.
He is also a possibility for the role of interior minister.
The position of foreign minister seems most likely to go to Laurent Fabius who has already undertaken a number of foreign trips on Hollande’s behalf in the past.
Ahead of his election, Hollande pledged his cabinet would have gender equality which means finding roles for several woman who have stood alongside him during the campaign including spokeswomen Delpine Batho and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.