In-fighting and manoeuvring: the story behind the appointment of new French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

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Former interior minister Manuel Valls officially took up office as France’s new prime minister on Tuesday in a handing over ceremony with the outgoing Jean-Marc Ayrault. The composition of the new government will be announced on Wednesday. President François Hollande’s nomination of Valls on Monday followed the Socialist Party’s historic debacle in local elections last weekend, but the move has met with mixed reaction among the ruling majority, divided into pro- and anti-Valls camps. Lénaïg Bredoux reports on the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring that preceded his appointment, and hears from insiders on how, over several months, worsening relations between Ayrault and Hollande reached a point of no return.

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“By voting or by abstaining, you have expressed your unhappiness and your deception,” said French President François Hollande in his televised address to the nation on Monday evening, 24 hours after the disastrous results for his socialist party in nationwide local elections. Announcing the appointment of Manuel Valls as France's new prime minister, replacing Jean-Marc Ayrault who had been in the post since Hollande's election in May 2012, the president told the French public: “I have heard your message, it is clear.”