May 16 (Bloomberg) -- French President Francois Hollande named Pierre Moscovici, a former European Affairs minister and a self-proclaimed social democrat, his finance minister.
Moscovici, 54, will be part of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government, and will succeed Nicolas Sarkozy’s Finance Minister Francois Baroin.
“The government is renewed, it’s the change the French wanted,” Ayrault said today on France 2 television. “The men and women with me have all exercised responsibility.”
The new appointee arrives at the finance ministry as euro-area governments struggle to contain fresh speculation that Greece may abandon the single currency, threatening Europe’s economy. The euro has fallen for 12 of the past 13 days as Greek politicians failed to form a coalition government and opted for fresh elections after an inconclusive May 6 vote.
In his new job, Moscovici will be charged with convincing other European governments to back Hollande’s strategy of shifting the region’s focus to growth from austerity at a time when France’s own growth has stalled. The region’s second-largest economy posted no growth in the first quarter, national statistics office Insee said yesterday.
Hollande also named Michel Sapin Labor Minister, Laurent Fabius Foreign Minister and Manuel Valls Interior Minister. Jerome Cahuzac will run the budget ministry. For the first time, the French government will have an equal number of men and women in its cabinet, Ayrault said.
Moscovici is the son of two renowned psychologists, both Communist sympathizers. His father was born in Romania and took refuge in France in 1947 after he supported the Communist Party.
The young Moscovici started in politics as a supporter of the Communist Revolutionary League and left it in his late twenties for the Socialist Party, where he steadily rose to become one of its leaders and a specialist of European affairs.
Moscovici, like Hollande, studied at France’s elite Institute for Political Sciences and Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris. After working for the Socialist Party for several years, he ran for deputy in 1997 in the eastern Doubs region.
Shortly after winning the seat, he was appointed European Affairs Minister by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the last Socialist in power before Hollande. Moscovici held that position for five years.
Moscovici has twice won a seat at the European Parliament, where he joined the foreign affairs commission and the delegation for relations with the U.S.
Moscovici, who speaks English, co-heads the lobby group Cercle de l’Industrie that defends French industry in Europe.
In 2003, Moscovici joined Dominique Strauss-Kahn and they founded a social-democratic movement called “A Gauche en Europe,” or leftwing in Europe, a pro-market group.
When Strauss-Kahn left for the IMF in 2007, Moscovici took charge of the Socialist Party’s social-democrat wing. He remained one of Strauss-Kahn’s biggest supporters until his arrest in New-York in May last year. He later backed Hollande and became his campaign chief in December.
Moscovici said he and Hollande work for the ”serious left” that cuts deficits and puts together “responsible budgets,” he told RTL radio on April 25.
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