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France’s culture minister joins anti-austerity rebels to quit Valls government
France’s outgoing culture minister Aurélie Filipetti has joined Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg in blasting President François Hollande’s economic policy and declaring that she will not be part of the reshuffled government to be announced Tuesday. Ex-education minister Benoît Hamon is also among the rebels.
The austerity policies being followed “everywhere in Europe” are “leading to an impasse”, Filipetti told RMC radio and BFMTV on Tuesday, going on to declare that the Socialist Party owes it to its voters to change course.
“What we we were asking for was not a complete, radical change of economic policy,” she said. “Simply that we can send the French a message over unemployment, living standards, a slightly different sharing of the burden of the 50-billion-euro budget deficit savings.”
Her stance is “obviously not compatible with membership of the next government”, she declared.
In a letter to Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday Filipetti described the debate at the last cabinet meeting that she attended, last Thursday, as the “exact opposite of everything we were elected for”.
She has chosen loyalty to her ideals over cabinet solidarity, she told them.
Filipetti, who represents a constituency in Lorraine – a region that has been devastated by the decline of the steel and coal industries – warned that the far-right Front National could rach the second round of the 2017 presidential election, pointing to its increased support in “regions hit by deinsustrialisation”.
Hamon on Monday announced that he would not seek a post in the new cabinet because of differences over the outgoing government’s austerity policy.
Although Valls is to remain prime minister, his first government, formed at the beginning of the year when he took over from Jean-Marc Ayrault, has had one of the shortest lifespans in modern French history.