President Nicolas Sarkozy has congratulated Francois Fillon on his reappointment as prime minister following France’s cabinet reshuffle.
But the question now is: will the cabinet changes be enough to revive Sarkozy’s flagging popular support? Too early to tell, but arguably it was more a case of out with the old and in with the even older as once disgraced Prime Minister Alan Juppe was welcomed back to head defence.
Elsewhere, Eric Woerth, the man who helped introduce France’s unpopular pension reforms admitted it had cost him his job, saying: ‘‘I paid the price for this (pension) reform. At the same time, I think this reform was so indispensable that it will be accepted by the French.”
Many believe the reshuffle aims to woo conservative voters ahead of the 2012 presidential vote.
Political analyst Gael Sliman said: ‘‘There will definitely be a re-balancing act. Francois Fillon is going to focus on domestic issues. This is normally the rule for the prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy will concentrate on his role with the presidency of the G20.’‘
The French opposition leader Martine Aubry, meanwhile, attacked the reshuffle as a cheap bid by Sarkozy to win re-election.
She added: ‘‘We’re preparing a leftist project but we’ve always said: Democrats, humanists, all those today who can no longer support this democratic suffocation, these injustices which that violence. All of them will be welcome to support a project that far more represents France and its values.’‘
But the real winner appears to be Prime Minister Francois Fillon. Polls show him far more popular than the president and with growing power in the ruling UMP.