François Hollande delivers on gender in government


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The Independent Online

President François Hollande showed an unexpectedly ruthless streak yesterday by shaping a gender-balanced French government from which several friends, and one notable foe, were excluded.

The most notable casualty was the Socialist party leader and mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, who will take no part in the government which takes office today. Ms Aubry, 60, an acrimonious rival to Mr Hollande within the party for more than two decades, had been tipped as a possible prime minister.

In the event, Mr Hollande chose Jean-Marc Ayrault, 62, as his Prime Minister. Ms Aubry said yesterday that she and Mr Hollande had decided, jointly and amicably, that there was "no sense" in her taking a more junior role.

The whole process of forming the first Socialist administration in France for 10 years became more tortuous, and acrimonious, than anticipated. The announcement of the list of ministers was delayed several times as President Hollande and Mr Ayrault wrestled with a Rubik's Cube of gender, seniority, ethnicity and tendency.

Mr Hollande kept his campaign promise that France would have its first gender-balanced government. Almost half the ministerial posts were given to experienced or rising women politicians, including Nicole Bricq, 64, (environment), Christiane Taubira, 60, (justice), Aurélie Filippetti, 39, (culture) and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, 34, (women's rights and government spokeswoman).

The President also reached out to senior figures in the party who have had strained relations with him in the past. As a result, several long-standing friends of the newly elected President failed to receive the ministerial jobs that they had wanted.