Every government reshuffle starts with the media’s favourite game: musical chairs! Who’s leaving? Who’s staying? What are the forces at play? Which courtisans are still in favour, which are not in the good books anymore?
The last reshuffle of François Hollande’s first term is no exception. These past few days, a selection of castings —from the most eccentric to the most plausible— have found their way in newspapers’ pages. And after what felt like an interminable suspense, the Élysée Palace has released a communiqué listing the names of the new members of the Olympus, a government «rooted in experience, strength [and] renewal», according to Manuel Valls.
To the left, to the left!
The (not so sudden) resignation of Christiane Taubira left a huge vacuum in the executive team, more and more accused of veering towards the right. To counter this, François Hollande cast a wide net and brought in a left radical and three ecologists. Jean-Michel Baylet, replace Maryliste Lebranchu at the Ministry of Public Administration and Decentralization. Former Secretary General of EELV Emmanuelle Cosse landed the Ministry of Housing, snatched from the hands of Sylvia Pinel. On a funny note, Pinel‘s predecessor is none other than Cécile Duflot — the Secretary General of EELV before Emmanuelle Cosse. Duflot was staunchly against the presence of any ecologist in the government. EELV dropouts Jean-Vincent Placé and Barbara Pompili both become Secretaries of State.
If this isn’t a sign that Hollande is very much thinking of his reelection…
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the return of the rejected son
The Ecologists are not the only ones to be back. Longtime friend of François Hollande Jean-Marc Ayrault, the former Prime Minister, is back as well. But in his own terms, apparently. No direct contact with the man who wronged him, by accepting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ayrault will answer directly to the president.
The sacrificed one
No government reshuffle happens without an unexpected, symbolical murder. This time, it came upon Fleur Pellerin. Promoted Minister of Culture in 2014 after Aurélie Fillipetti‘s departure to join the ranks of the « recalcitrants » of the left, Pellerin was brutally and quite inelegantly unplugged to make room for Hollande‘s Cultural Counselor Audrey Azoulay. According to weekly magazine L’Obs, the president’s partner, Julie Gayet, was not a fan of the former minister. Valls‘s support couldn’t save her.
He was said to be on the go, on the verge of a burnout, ready to throw out everything and leave the circles of power for good. And yet, he’s still here. Despite the moody temper he displayed recently, and his less than warm relations with farmers, Stéphane Le Foll remains Minister of Agriculture and the spokesperson of the government.
Another minister in turmoil, Marisol Touraine, fought relentlessly by GPs, remains at the helm of the Ministry of Health.
And the exception of the government, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the new president of the Brittany region, will remain Minister of Defense.
The reshuffle makes the government bigger
To hell with the idea of spending less, of having a small, efficient team to do the work, the latest government reshuffle indulged in a bit of gourmandise and got bigger. As 2017 draws near —and promises to be a tough fight—, the executive felt the need to placate so many « allies » that it even made up ministries with funny names, such as the Ministry of State of Real equality or of Victims aid.