Hollande Readies Cabinet Shuffle as Fabius Confirms He's Leaving

  • Socialist president faces backlash over constitutional change
  • Royal, Ayrault among possible candidates for Foreign Ministry

Francois Hollande.

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

French President Francois Hollande is preparing for a cabinet shake-up as Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed that he will leave the government in coming days.

Fabius, 69, is set to be named to head France’s constitutional court after a lifetime in politics that saw him become the youngest prime minister since World War II when he was handed the job by then-President Francois Mitterrand in 1984. Asked by journalists Wednesday whether that day’s cabinet meeting was his last, he answered simply “yes,” before getting into his car.

For Hollande, the departure provides an opportunity to revamp his team and energize his government as he moves into the final year of his five-year mandate. The Socialist president’s personal popularity is sagging in the face of unemployment stuck at an 18-year high and a backlash over a constitutional change that would allow the state to strip dual-nationals of their French nationality.

The future of Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who has expressed reservations about the policy, and of Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is driving it forward, will set the tone for the cabinet shake up. While Christiane Taubira resigned over the matter, Macron has kept his job, while also pushing both Valls and Hollande to go further on economic reform.

Segolene Royal, currently environment minister and mother of Hollande’s four children, is being considered for defense or foreign affairs and former Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is a possible candidate to take over the foreign ministry, according to press reports.

(Corrects spelling of former minister's first name in fourth paragraph of story that ran Feb. 10.)
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