President Sarkozy has accepted the French government’s resignation ahead of a long expected reshuffle.
The prime minister Francois Fillon has been tipped to remain in his post, although the timing of the announcement has caused some surprise and prompted more speculation about his future.
Eighteen months before the next presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy is deeply unpopular according to opinion polls.
One name that has been cited as a possible successor to Fillon is that of the outgoing government’s number two, the Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo – a move that might be seen as a shift to the centre. But last week his chances were thought to have faded.
Both men saw the president on Saturday. His office said the new government would not be announced immediately.