Hollande hopes for fresh start as new French government is named

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Hollande hopes for fresh start as new French government is named

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Just one day into the job, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has unveiled France’s new government, which Francois Hollande hopes will breathe fresh life into his unpopular presidency.

Ministers’ names were announced by an aide to Hollande, whose former partner Segolene Royal enters the cabinet, getting the environment and energy portfolio.

The return of the 2007 Socialist presidential candidate was eased by Hollande’s breakup with his partner of eight years, Valerie Trierweiler, in January.

The appointment of Spanish-born Valls as premier and the cabinet shake-up follows the ruling Socialist Party’s rout in last weekend’s local elections.

Ex-premier Laurent Fabius remains as Foreign Minister, also taking on International Development.

Leftist Arnaud Montebourg has an expanded title too, becoming Economy Minister with oversight over industry and the digital economy.

Montebourg has been the most outspoken member of Hollande’s team, a champion of protectionism who has openly accused the EU executive of strangling Europe’s economy with austerity policies he says are misguided.

Christiane Taubira, often at the centre of controversy, keeps her Justice Minister’s job.

But former Housing Minister Cecile Duflot has quit. Like fellow Greens in Hollande’s coalition, she has refused to work with Valls who leftist critics claim is not left enough.

The Greens’ stance could weaken parliamentary support for the government’s economic reform plans.

Hollande hopes the changes will win back public support, with surveys showing he is the least popular leader in France’s 56-year-old Fifth Republic.