Hollande’s Top Ministers May Include Ayrault, Aubry, Moscovici

First Secretary of French Socialist Party Martine Aubry
First Secretary of France's Socialist Party Martine Aubry speaks at Place de la Bastille in Paris after Francois Hollande wins the French presidential elections. Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Francois Hollande, France’s first Socialist president since 1995, will consider party stalwarts including parliamentary leader Jean-Marc Ayrault and Martine Aubry, author of the 35-hour work week, as top ministers.

“We have to get away from austerity in Europe,” Ayrault said today in television interviews. “The election of Francois Hollande will allow the reordering of Europe.”

Hollande has said he’ll choose as prime minister a “uniter, who knows lawmakers well, knows the Socialist Party well and knows me well.”

That describes Ayrault, 62, who has headed the Socialist group in parliament since 1997 and is the mayor of the western city of Nantes. Ayrault is also a member of the defense commission at the National Assembly.

“The next important signpost in France will be the selection of a prime minister,” said Antonio Barroso, an analyst at Eurasia Group in London. “Whomever Hollande selects will set the whole tone for his government.”

The French return to the polls June 10 and 17 for two-round legislative elections for lawmakers at the National Assembly, where the defeated Nicolas Sarkozy’s party currently holds a majority.

“We can’t set things right if we don’t change the method,” Ayrault said today. “We know the situation is difficult. We will start with an audit of the state finances.”

Among Hollande’s economic advisers and candidates for cabinet posts are former Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Jerome Cahuzac, a surgeon and lawmaker who heads the National Assembly finance committee.

Aubry’s Future

One question mark is over the future role of Aubry, mayor of the northern city of Lille and Socialist Party chief. Aubry is best known for having served as labor minister twice, putting in place the country’s 35-hour work week, which has been criticized for hurting French industrial competitiveness.

Running against Hollande in the Socialist primaries, Aubry suggested he would represent the “soft left” and accused him of having a right-wing bent.

Former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius may be a favorite for the foreign ministry, according to the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Other advisers to Hollande during the campaign were Manuel Valls and Pierre Moscovici, who could be potential cabinet members, while Jean-Yves le Drian, a regional representative in Brittany, is a possible defense minister, according to the JDD.

Hollande has pledged his cabinet will have gender parity so women who could be included are Socialist lawmakers Delphine Batho, who was a Hollande spokeswoman during the campaign, Aurelie Filippetti and Marisol Touraine as well as Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, another one of his spokeswomen who is deputy to the mayor of Lyon.

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