France's Hollande said to back away from reshuffle

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2013 1:09 PM
France's Hollande said to back away from reshuffle

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande is unlikely to reshuffle his government before the summer break and will instead urge ministers to sharpen their focus on unemployment and other issues sapping their popularity, sources told Reuters.

Hollande, who had hinted in May that changes to his top team were in the works, has since backed away from the idea of a ministerial shake-up, an Elysee source said.

A reshuffle "is not currently envisaged and we don't think it's what voters expect", said the source, who asked not to be identified. "That's why ministers have to mobilize."

The rethink is likely to come as a relief for government members including Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici - whose departure had been considered likely in any changeover. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius fanned those flames last month by saying that the finance ministry "needs a boss".

Hollande's popularity ratings fell faster than any other elected president during his first year in office, largely due to his failure to tame rising unemployment. The jobless rate stands at a record high of 10.4 percent amid mounting discontent over weak spending power, compounded by a housing shortage.

"When times are tough, a strategy switch is about the last thing you should do," said a government minister close to the president. "You just have to hold on tight, whatever the cost."

(Writing by Laurence Frost; editing by Andrew Roche)