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French prime minister Manuel Valls takes over vowing to work for social justice


French prime minister Manuel Valls takes over vowing to work for social justice

Exit Jean-Marc Ayrault, enter Manuel Valls. The new French prime minister took over at a ceremony outside the premier’s official Matignon residence.

His predecessor – who stepped down after the governing Socialists’ disastrous local election results – wished the newcomer success in what he called an “immense task”.

The new prime minister replied: “The president of the Republic has set out a road map to go further, faster and of course to respond – (looking at Ayrault) you were also deeply committed to it – to the demand for justice and social justice in our country. A demand that the recent local elections revealed even more strongly.”

With Ayrault gone, manoeuvring is in full swing over the formation of a new government which President Hollande has said will be stronger and closely knit. It could be announced as early as Wednesday.

With Manuel Valls at its head, commentators see signs of a shift to the right.

But near Matignon, one voter said: “I don’t think that’s the message voters on the left sent to Hollande, it’s clear that they wanted a return to the left of the left.”

Two Green ministers, Cécile Duflot and Pascal Canfin, are leaving the government, refusing to work under Valls.

The papers describe the appointment of the new prime minister as a gamble – one socialist says it represents the “last chance” for Hollande’s presidency.

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