, PARIS, Aug 25 – France was thrown into fresh crisis on Monday after President Francois Hollande told his prime minister to form a new government, following a much-criticised show of insubordination by the country’s firebrand economy minister.
It is the second reshuffle in just five months as the ruling Socialists struggle to pull France out of the economic doldrums and the government is riven by infighting between left-leaning party members and those like Prime Minister Manuel Valls who veer more to the centre.
A presidency statement said Valls had offered the resignation of his government – a formality that allows him to form a new cabinet – and the new line-up would be announced on Tuesday.
“The head of state asked him (Valls) to form a team consistent with the direction he has himself set for the country,” it said.
The presidency did not give any reasons, but the move came after Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg bad-mouthed France’s economic direction and the austerity policies of European powerhouse Germany, angering Valls.
“You have to raise your voice. Germany is trapped in an austerity policy that it imposed across Europe,” Montebourg said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper published Saturday.
Then in a speech on Sunday, Montebourg said he had asked Hollande and Valls for a “major shift” in economic policy.
“Given the seriousness of the economic situation, an economy minister has a duty to offer alternative solutions.”