The new look French cabinet got down to work this morning, while President Nicholas Sarkozy’s bigger than expected reshuffle raised numerous questions.
Obviously any president changes his team to increase his influence, but what did the appointment of the nephew of the former socialist president Mitterrand mean? With Frederic Mitterrand made minister of culture, was it a Sarkozy overture to the left? Even if Mitterrand junior has privately leaned to the right? The invitation to Sarkozy’s closest friend and adviser, Brice Hortefeux, to become the interior minister is clear, but since he has already been unexpectedly elected an MEP and will now have two portfolios, how has the president squared that with his former justice minister? Rachida Dati was specifically told she had to give up her cabinet seat in order to become an MEP. And has the decision to scrap the human rights portfolio, only two years after Sarkozy created it, amounted to forcing a demotion on the popular Rama Yade? She has been given sport. In all, eight cabinet ministers were replaced with right-wing loyalists being promoted. For many analysts the reshuffle is seen as Sarkozy returning to a more traditional form of government after his experiment with outsiders.