For first time, France's harried Hollande hints at reshuffle

7th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande has hinted for the first time that a cabinet reshuffle could be on the cards as the beleaguered leader struggles to revive a flagging economy and boost jobs.

Hollande, who has become the most unpopular leader in modern French history a year into his presidency, had previously refused to be drawn on any prospect for change within his Socialist government.

But in an interview with Paris Match magazine due to come out on Wednesday, he said a reshuffle of ministers would come "in time" and that "no one is protected in the government".

"One day, choices and adjustments will have to be made," he said. "No one is protected in the government. No one has immunity."

"The reshuffle will come in time", he said, adding that his ministerial team must bring results in the fight against rising unemployment, in housing, consumption, education and on "France's position in the world".

The only minister that Hollande congratulates by name in the interview is Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who he says "is doing well. As is recognised by public opinion."

Hollande on Monday marked the first anniversary of his 2012 election win over right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy with a promise to launch a major investment programme to revive France, amid an outpouring of criticism of his presidency.

"A year after the election of Francois Hollande, France is in crisis -- political, economic, social and moral," left-wing newspaper Liberation wrote, saying Hollande "has not been able, for the moment, to win the confidence of his countrymen".

Left-wingers have accused Hollande of turning his back on Socialist principles while others are furious with him for failing to revive an economy on the verge recession and stop unemployment that has risen to a 16-year high.

As a result, his approval rating has fallen faster and further than any other president's since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958.

Opinion polls suggest voters would support the widening of the government to include some prominent centrist figures, amid speculation that a cabinet reshuffle might come before the summer.

© 2013 AFP

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