Why Hollande's ruling majority has dissolved into an imposing minority

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday handed President François Hollande the resignation of his entire government following fierce public criticism of its austerity policies made this weekend by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg and education minister Benoît Hamon. The exit from government of Montebourg and Hamon was joined by culture minister Aurélie Filippetti, who announced on Monday her own opposition to continuing austerity measures. Hollande has asked Valls to appoint a new government, to be announced on Tuesday, that is "consistent with the direction" set by the president. In this analysis of a unique set of events since the founding of France’s Fifth Republic constitution in 1958, Mediapart political affairs correspondent Hubert Huertas argues that Hollande has turned a ruling majority into such an imposing minority that a return to the urns is demanded.

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In the immediate wake of the disastrous results for the ruling Socialist Party in local elections held in March, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault resigned and Manuel Valls, with the support of Arnaud Montebourg, succeeded him. The idea then was that this would be a government of combat, united behind President François Hollande. But just 147 days later, the cabinet team no longer exists.