François Hollande’s second change of government in two years in office is due to be announced on Tuesday in what is being described as the last chance for his unpopular French presidency.
He has asked prime minister Manuel Valls to form a new cabinet after rebel left-wing ministers called for an economic U-turn.
The outgoing Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg has led the charge, long arguing that deficit-cutting should not be a priority.
“The entire world is urging, begging us even to bring to an end these absurd austerity policies which continue to push the eurozone into recession and soon into deflation,” he told supporters on Monday. “It’s therefore necessary to have the intellectual and political courage to say that austerity policies make deficits worse, precisely where they should reduce them.”
Hollande has been seeking to cut taxes while trimming public spending. But France has admitted that due to stagnant growth it failed to meet its deficit targets.
It is under five months since the ruling socialists’ awful local election results prompted the last government reshuffle.
The next cabinet will no longer include Montebourg and at least two other dissenters: Education Minister Benoît Hamon and Culture Minister Aurélie Filipetti.
The question now is whether the government will have enough parliamentary support to push reforms through, or whether a new rebel movement may threaten still further Hollande’s attempts to tackle a stagnant economy.
The president has decided it is time to reassert his authority – but he is taking a huge gamble.
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