France was plunged into deeper crisis on Monday when President Francois Hollande told his prime minister to form a new government after a very public rebellion by certain ministers including Arnaud Montebourg.
It is the second reshuffle in just five months as the Socialists struggle to pull stagnating France out of the economic doldrums and the party is riven by infighting between left-leaning members and those who veer more to the centre.
A presidency statement said Prime Minister Manuel Valls had tendered the resignation of his government and the new line-up would be announced on Tuesday.
“The head of state asked him (Valls) to form a team consistent with the direction he has himself set for the country,” it said.
The move caught France by surprise and sparked concern that Hollande, whose popularity is at a record low at just 17 percent, will lose further support by alienating key members of his party that still wield influence.
“It’s a very serious crisis. We’ve never had this kind of rebellion in the government before now,” French politics professor Philippe Marliere told The Local. “It’s clear there is a rupture in the party.”
Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, whose comments over the weekend slamming the country’s economic direction and France’s ally Germany sparked the crisis, said he would not be in the new cabinet as did his ally Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti.
Montebourg also announced that Education Minister Benoit Hamon, another member of the left-leaning clan of the party, would not take part in the new line-up.
‘Take back my freedom’
Echoing his weekend comments in stronger terms, the anti-globalisation advocate warned in a speech Monday that austerity measures were only prolonging and worsening a “serious, destructive and long” crisis in Europe.
“For two years, I fought tirelessly to convince, I wrote notes and letters to the head of the executive and made private and public declarations to attempt to convince and implore the president to refuse excessive measures for our country that risked damaging and sinking our economy,” he said.
Acknowledging that he had failed to convince the president or prime minister, he said: “I believed it necessary to take back my freedom in the same way he (Valls) accepted to give it to me.”
The 51-year-old left-wing minister is no stranger to controversy, having made headlines in the past for his outspoken criticism of Germany, which he has blamed for factory closures in France…. see more