The Ayrault Government: Who Will Make It In?

Ayrault & Hollande

Today (Tuesday, May 15), François Hollande became president and he named Jean-Marc Ayrault prime minister. Ayrault is expected to announce his government tomorrow (Wednesday, May 16) afternoon. What follows is some reckless speculation, based on press reports, on who the members of the government are likely to be:

Minister of Economy and Finance (or “Bercy”): Michel Sapin. Hollande doesn’t want to scare the markets or the Germans by appointing someone to this crucial position who is too far to his party’s left. Michel Sapin, age 60, fits the bill. He is an intellectually respected, moderate socialist who had the job once before (under Bérégovoy, from 1992 to 1993). He’s also an Hollande intimate: not only were the two classmates at the ENA, they also did their military service together.

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Pierre Moscovici (the “Quai d’Orsay”). A former minister of European affairs, Moscovici, age 54, was also in the running for “Matignon” (the prime-ministership) and the finance ministry, for which he was qualified by virtue of his background in economics. But at a time when the Euro crisis and Franco-German relations are the central issues of France’s foreign policy, Moscovici’s knowledge of Europe would make him particularly effective as foreign minister. Hollande asked Moscovici to run his campaign and his transition team, proof that he has the new president’s trust. (For a slightly more detailed portrait, see here). At a recent press conference, he showed off his ability to speak English, which can’t hurt (see the end of this clip).

Minister of European Affairs: Catherine Trautmann. A former culture minister, Trautmann, age 61, was also the mayor of Strasbourg, the city that is home to a number of the European Union’s key institutions.

Minister of Defense: Laurent Fabius. He’s been mentioned (including in this blog) as a leading candidate for the foreign affairs or finance ministries. Fabius, however, has in recent years adopted somewhat of an anti-European line, notably opposing the European Constitutional Treaty in the 2005 referendum. Defense is “regal” enough for Fabius’ stature, while avoiding sending the mixed message about France’s European commitments that would arise from naming him to Bercy or the Quai d’Orsay.

Minister of Social Affairs: Martine Aubry. What role can Hollande offer his onetime rival if he passes over her for prime minister? Not to include her in the government might be seen as insulting, given her stature. It could also upset his party’s left. But Aubry is considered to lean too far to the left for Bercy. And many positions are already accounted for. The logical solution would be to bring Aubry back to social affairs, a ministry she ran several times in the 1990s, in addition to working there under Mitterrand.  Yet will she be prepared to re-enter government just to do a job she’s done before? (For a portrait of her I wrote last fall, see here).

Minister of Health: Marisol Touraine. This 53 year old normalienne was in charge of health issues for Hollande’s campaign. She also happens to be the daughter of the prominent sociologist Alain Touraine.

Minister of Interior (“Place Beauvau”): Manuel Valls. As mayor of Evry, Valls (who was also Hollande’s campaign spokesman) has some experience with security issues. This would allow Hollande to give a chance—and experience—to a (somewhat) younger generation of socialists. (For a slightly more detailed portrait, see here).

Minister of Justice (“Place Vendôme”): André Vallini. Vallini has been responsible for judicial issues in the PS for some time, including during Hollande’s campaign. Because of her career as a magistrate, Eva Joly, the Green candidate, has been mentioned as another possibility, but her poor showing on April 22 makes this unlikely.

Minister of Environment: Aurélie Filippetti. Filippetti is a 38 year old normalienne (and occasional novelist) who worked on environmental issues for the Greens before becoming one of the socialist party’s rising starts. She could also be an option for the culture ministry.

Minister of Education: Vincent Peillon. A philosopher by training, Peillon has been thinking about education (as well as republicanism, secularism, and socialism) for some time. He was responsible for these issues during Hollande’s campaign. Peillon is considered a shoe-in for this ministry, which will be central to the president’s domestic agenda.

Minister of Industry: Arnaud Montebourg. Montebourg had a strong third-place finish in the fall’s socialist primary, during which he championed the concept of “deglobalization.” In the campaign, he organized Hollande’s tour of factories that are shutting down because of globalization. This position would give Montebourg, who is 49, a chance to put his ideas to the test and to acquire ministerial experience. Hollande has called for a revitalization of French industrial production. (For a more complete portrait I wrote of him last year, see here).

Minister of the Digital Economy: Fleur Péllerin. A 38 year old énarque who was born in South Korea before being adopted by French parents, Péllerin was responsible for digital economy and technology issues for Hollande’s campaign.

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One response to “The Ayrault Government: Who Will Make It In?

  1. What I wonder is whether there will be a will to try to implement new economic policies, with a stress put on “cooperatives” or at least what is called here ESS (Economie Sociale et Solidaire). Occasionnally, I heard some socialist leaders suggesting this might be on their agenda. Montebourg might be the right man in the right place for that.
    Today, Hollande’s speech near the statue of Jules Ferry said education somehow matters more than money. One point I keep writing my blog about is the idea that education must pave the way towards other ways to run “businesses”… with more cooperation and less competition in order to cope with the long term issues awaiting other methods than the quarterly accounts at the root of short-term speculation.

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