After vote, reformist French Cabinet gets new look

AP News
Posted: Jun 18, 2012 9:13 AM
After vote, reformist French Cabinet gets new look

President Francois Hollande's Socialist government formally resigned Monday after the legislative election, a tradition that sets the stage for a more muscular leftist government to push through changes such as higher taxes on corporate titans and hiring more teachers.

Hollande immediately re-appointed Jean-Marc Ayrault as prime minister and asked him to form a new government, which was expected to be nearly identical to the outgoing cabinet. A government spokeswoman said the new lineup was likely to be announced Thursday after Hollande returns from summits in Mexico and Brazil.

The Socialists vaulted to dominance in the 577-seat National Assembly in Sunday's election. That gives Hollande _ who was elected last month _ the backing he needs to push forward with his leftist reform program.

Final results released Monday showed the Socialist Party won 280 seats, while two closely allied parties garnered a total of 34 seats _ giving the Socialist-led bloc 314 seats. In addition, the left-leaning Green Party won 17 seats and the far-left Left Front, led by a former Socialist, collected 10.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party and its conservative allies were the biggest election losers, dropping to 229 seats from 304. The far-right, anti-immigration National Front won two seats _ its best showing in the Assembly since the 1980s _ although its leader Marine Le Pen narrowly lost her bid to win a seat in northern France.

Le Pen, the daughter of firebrand party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and a swashbuckling politician in her own right, told France-Info radio Monday that she will appeal to France's Constitutional Council after results showed she lost to Socialist Philippe Kemel by just 118 votes out of more than 55,000 cast.

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The long-divided Socialist Party now has an unprecedented lock on politics in France and plans to use it to raise taxes on big banks and oil companies, levy a 75-percent tax on incomes higher than (EURO)1 million ($1.26 million) a year, and hire 60,000 teachers.

Sarkozy's government had trimmed education jobs, mainly to rein in state spending.

Hollande's strong domestic mandate will let him push back in global economic talks against the budget cuts being demanded by Germany, which Greece and other indebted countries say are driving them deeper into the financial abyss by suffocating growth.

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