From farms to finance: Agriculture minster Herve Gaymard has switched roles and taken on the tough finance portfolio – with plenty of challenges ahead. He will have to boost growth enough to get unemployment below a government target of 9 percent next year while ensuring that Paris meets its pledge to bring its public deficit under the European Union’s ceiling of 3 percent of GDP.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the 44-year-old father of eight is stepping into the shoes of one of France’s most popular politicians. Nicolas Sarkozy vacated the finance post after his election as head of President Jacques Chirac’s ruling UMP party. He secured over 85 percent of the vote at a glitzy American-style congress. The ambitious former lawyer has made no secret of his desire to replace Chirac. And it is thought he will use his new position as a springboard for a run at the presidency at the next elections in 2007.