LONDON, UK – Jean-Marc Ayrault has taken over as the new prime minister of France, a day after François Hollande was sworn in as president.
Ayrault, a 62-year-old former German teacher, lawmaker and long-time Socialist ally of Hollande, bid farewell to outgoing prime minister François Fillon at the Matignon Palace in Paris before getting to work on forming a new cabinet, to be completed later today, the BBC reports.
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Hollande has pledged that women will make up half of the cabinet, but one of the Socialist Party’s most experienced and well-known female politicians, party leader and former labor minister Martine Aubry, is said to have ruled out joining it as she saw “no point” in doing so if she could not be prime minister.
Ayrault, who like Hollande has never held a ministerial post, is mayor of Nantes and viewed as a consensus builder, according to the Agence France Presse.
Hollande has been attacked for naming him as prime minister, due to contradictions between the new president’s promise on the campaign trail not to work with anyone with a criminal record and Ayrault’s 1997 conviction for favoritism in the awarding of a local government contract in Nantes. The conviction was officially wiped from the record in 2007.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Hollande has vowed to restore the strength of the prime ministerial role after ex-leader Nicolas Sarkozy concentrated power in the presidency during his five-year-term, and also wants to involve parliament more in tackling the euro zone crisis after Sarkzoy assigned strategic control to unelected advisers.
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