Interior Minister Manuel Valls Replaces Ayrault as Prime Minister

Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Photo: flickr.com/fondapol

Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
Photo: flickr.com/fondapol

PARIS – It was the election night that the Parti Socialiste feared, and hoped would not become a reality — but the resignation of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his French government make the damage done on Sunday night quite clear.

Ayrault resigned Monday afternoon after the PS won only 40.57 percent of the total vote in France, while the UMP scored nearly 46 percent and took over several major cities that had been controlled by the Left, namely Toulouse, Limoges, and Reims.

President François Hollande officially tapped Interior Minister Manuel Valls as his new Prime Minister in a speech broadcast on French television Monday evening. Valls has not seen the same disapproval as other PS officials.

“I give Manuel Valls the mission to steer the government of France,” Hollande said in the speech. “This will be a strengthened, united team – a fighting government.”

Hollande laid out a number of objectives for the new government as it takes shape during the next few weeks: addressing the economy’s lack of strength and jobs, prioritizing social justice and security, and lowering taxes.

“Reinforcing the French economy is the best way for Europe’s to rise again.”

The municipal elections were the lowest of lows for Hollande’s two-year-old government, which has failed to tackle stunted economic growth and a stubborn unemployment rate above 10 percent. Public discontent with the Left, which has manifested itself in numerous demonstrations in Paris and throughout the country for months, became concrete.

Outside of Paris, which voted Left and favored PS candidate Anne Hidalgo as mayor, there was waning enthusiasm for the Left’s government — the voter turnout of 62 percent was the lowest in the Fifth Republic.

“It means we need to transform our state and reform the organization of our nation as a whole while preserving our society,” Hollande said.

The extreme-right Front National likely profited from the PS‘s troubles, garnering 7 percent of the vote and taking over 12 mayorships and more than 1,500 city council seats.

But the FN‘s minor jump forward is less the story than the struggle of the Left, which faces mounting pressure to fulfill the promises it laid out for France two full years ago.

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] the national level, former Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and newly appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls have each recognized the heavy defeat of the PS in this […]

  2. […] new prime minister, Manuel Valls, was appointed to his position last month by President François Hollande, as one of many attempts to revive that […]

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