French President François Hollande's new 34-member cabinet has been lauded for having 17 women ministers, the same number as men. Here's a look at some of the other eye-catching figures in France’s freshly appointed ministerial club.
A list of 34 new cabinet ministers and junior ministers was unveiled amid excitement and speculation in France on Wednesday evening. The government, picked by French President François Hollande and newly appointed Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, will be holding its first meeting on Thursday.
Half of all the ministry jobs, 17 in total, went to women, in line with Hollande’s campaign promise to respect gender-parity in his government. It is the first time that as many women as men were present in a prime minister’s cabinet. However, only one heavy ministerial portfolio – the justice ministry – went to a woman, the French Guyanese lawmaker Christiane Taubira.
There were other eye-catching figures in Ayrault’s team.
While the government is composed of mostly veteran politicians, with 52 being the average age of an Ayrault minister, 7 appointments went to people under 40. A pair of newcomers are just 34-years old: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who will be in charge of the newly-created ministry of women’s rights, and Sylvia Pinel, now a junior minister in charge of artisans and tourism.
Commentators have been quick to point out that more than half of the ministries, 18 in all, are being headed by non-Parisians. This characteristic is significant because bureaucrats from the French capital traditionally dominate the halls of government, cabinet ministries included.
The list counted only 4 politicians who have served in previous governments. The returning ministers, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, Labour Minister Michel Sapin, and Marylise Lebranchu, minister of state reform, decentralization and public service, all served under former PM Lionel Jospin in the late 1990s.
On Wednesday, 4 nominations went to left-wing politicians outside Hollande and Ayrault’s Socialist Party. Cécile Duflot, leader of the Green party in France, was named minister of housing, while Pascal Canfin, another Green and a member of the European Parliament, is now a junior minister under the ministry of ecology. Justice Minister Taubira and the young tourism chief Pinel hail from the moderate-left Radical Party.
The presence of minorities, a trend that began under former conservative PM François Fillon, is another feature of France’s new government. The cabinet includes 7 people from French ethnic minorities, mostly of Caribbean and North African origins. It also counts Fleur Pellerin, a 38-year-old newcomer who was born in Korea and adopted by a French family when she was six months old.