French politics

Which Prime for Hollande?

Martine Aubry, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Manuel Valls and Pierre Moscovici, possible Prime minister of François Hollande

Tomorrow, François Hollande will appoint his first Prime minister just after the transfer of powers between him and his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Some people are regularly put forward with insistence: Jean-Marc Ayrault, current MP-mayor of Nantes, Martine Aubry, current PS First Secretary and Manuel Valls, current MP-mayor of Evry (suburb of Paris) and indispensable François Hollande’s director of communication during the campaign. Other people are also quoted as Pierre Moscovici, head of campaign and Michel Sapin, former minister of Economy and close friend of the new President but they are regarded as outsiders.

Most people are speculating on the name of the future Prime minister even if all the journalist and political analysts seem to agree on a name: Jean-Marc Ayrault. Leader of the socialist group in the French Parliament since 1997, Ayrault is a discreet man and knows the French Assembly very well, which is an essential asset when you want to be head of Government. What is more, Ayrault appreciates Germany and German culture, which may be very useful vis-à-vis Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

Martine Aubry seems to be a credible alternative. PS leader, she is very popular within the activists and is often placed at the left wing of the party. She has good relations with the main other parties of the French left as Europe Ecologie Les Verts (The French Greens) and the Front de Gauche (Left Front) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon who will be very demanding with the Hollande presidency, even if it means to be an agitator.

Regarding Manuel Valls, this is an ambitious and effective politician and it may be a plausible choice in a context of crisis and increasing of the extremist parties. Nonetheless, it is more than probable an appointment of the current Member of Parliament is going to happen in a second time, depending on the evolution of the Hollande term. In other words, Valls rather appears as a joker, a possible recourse even if it is quite obvious he is going to play key-role in the future government.

Jean-Marc Ayrault is probably succeeding to François Fillon, the next 15th of May and becoming the first Prime minister of François Hollande. Nonetheless, such an honour might be questioned because of a criminal sentence, fifteen years ago. Ayrault never denied the facts considering he wasn’t questioned as a person or as a mayor but because he did not respect some fundamental principles regarding the public markets access. In other words, this case should not be taken into account but is it not be in contradiction with the idea of “exemplar Republic”, harshly defended by François Hollande during the campaign?

If Hollande makes a rational choice, he is going to choose Martine Aubry who won’t be able to refuse Matignon (the Prime Minister’s headquarters). If he makes a sentimental choice, Jean-Marc Ayrault will be Prime minister, which is the most probable case. Moreover, Hollande knows he will be able to count on a faithful man. The choice of tomorrow is very expecting and he is not impossible there will be a surprise on the front steps of the Elysée when the General Secretary announces the name of the elect.