Major French reshuffle putsSarkozy in charge of reforms

31st March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 31 (AFP) - The new government of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was announced on Wednesday, with a major reshuffle sending the cabinet's powerful number two Nicolas Sarkozy to the finance ministry.

PARIS, March 31 (AFP) - The new government of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was announced on Wednesday, with a major reshuffle sending the cabinet's powerful number two Nicolas Sarkozy to the finance ministry.

Former foreign minister Dominique de Villepin replaced Sarkozy, while European Union commissioner Michel Barnier will move back to Paris to step into de Villepin's shoes at the Quai d'Orsay.

President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday asked Raffarin to stay on despite the regional poll fiasco at the weekend, which saw voters punish the unpopular prime minister for his hard-to-swallow public sector reforms, but ordered him to choose a new team.

Chirac's governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) was humiliated in Sunday's regional elections, which resulted in the left-wing opposition led by the Socialists (PS) seizing control of 24 of France's 26 regional assemblies.

The reshuffled government also included the promotion of former urban affairs minister Jean-Louis Borloo to the post of labor and social affairs minister.

Borloo is expected to lead a superministry devoted to answering public concerns about social inequalities, and to give the cabinet a more compassionate look in the face of mounting public anxiety about joblessness.

Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie will stay on in her post.

The new cabinet is made up of seasoned political veterans - an attempt by Chirac and Raffarin to rid the government of non-career politicians appointed two years ago to give the government a broader public appeal.

 

                                         Subject: French news

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