President Nicolas Sarkozy is poised to pick a surprising Socialist as France's foreign minister
THE polished brass hats, shiny trumpets and 21-gun salute that marked the investiture of Nicolas Sarkozy as president in place of Jacques Chirac on Wednesday May 16th were all part of the traditional ceremonial pomp at the Elysée. Yet the new President Sarkozy promptly set out to deliver his promised break with the past, flying to Berlin the same day. Two days later he was expected to pick a broad-based government.
To no surprise, his prime minister will be François Fillon, a Gaullist former social-affairs minister who pushed through a mini-reform of state pensions in 2004. A late convert to the Sarko-sphere, he has become a loyal right-hand man and foil to the hyperactive Mr Sarkozy, tough enough to push reforms but not so strong as to overshadow what will be a hands-on presidency.
There will be change at the Ministry of Finance as well. It is expected to be split in two, with an economic strategy and jobs portfolio going to Jean-Louis Borloo, outgoing social-cohesion minister, as part of Mr Sarkozy’s efforts to convert the French to the idea that growth and jobs are linked and employment is not just a welfare matter. “Work, effort, merit”, a campaign slogan, rang out from Mr Sarkozy’s investiture speech. A former prime minister, Alain Juppé, despite a past conviction for political corruption, is likely to have a super-ministry of ecology, energy and transport.
Mr Sarkozy’s biggest challenge has been trying to meet his own pledge—made when he faced off with a female rival in Ségolène Royal—to fill half his streamlined cabinet of 15 with women. Christine Lagarde, the outgoing trade minister, and Michèle Alliot-Marie, the departing defence minister, were expected to get top posts, as might Christiane Taubira, a black left-wing deputy. A few centrists are also expected to land jobs. But some of the new president’s old (male) friends are set for disappointment. “Loyalty is a matter of sentiment,” said Mr Sarkozy a few days before his investiture. “Efficiency is for government.”
May 17th 2007 | PARIS
From The Economist print edition