Two ministers quit French government

Claudine Rigal
Juin 22, 2017

President Emmanuel Macron's allies from the under-fire MoDem party quit the government, complicating what had been billed as a routine ministerial reshuffle days after his party emphatically won parliamentary elections.

Bayrou was a crucial supporter of Macron's movement during the presidential campaign, and his backing was key in winning centrist votes for the new president.

A fourth government member facing an unrelated investigation also announced Tuesday he was leaving his post as minister for territorial cohesion to lead the group of lawmakers elected under the banner of Macron's party at the National Assembly, the lower chamber of parliament. "This comes at a time when MoDem itself is weakened".

Bayrou's party has been embroiled in its own corruption scandal.

But the move has been considered a demotion, after Ferrand was suspected of helping in real estate deals for his wife in the past, as well as employing his children as assistants in the French parliament.

Ferrand has been under pressure since prosecutors opened a preliminary probe into whether the former Socialist's partner benefited from a real estate transaction with a mutual insurer that he ran in 2011, before becoming a member of Parliament. The French papers this morning are full of anonymous sources from the president's party describing an "outsized ego" who "stops (them) from governing".

In the face of the threats of extremism, inequality, and authoritarian regimes, it is up to the European Union to "win the battle" for "freedom and ensure social justice and preserving the climate of our planet", Macron said on June 21.

On Tuesday, the MoDem leader told AFP he would not comment on Goulard s resignation except to say her decision was "personal".

Goulard said she wants to be free to "show my good faith" in the investigation into the parliamentary assistants.

"That is why I have asked the president, with the agreement of the prime minister, to leave the government", she added.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen has also been the subject of allegations that she claimed back salaries from the European Parliament for supposed aides who were actually working for her party.

As justice minister, Bayrou is responsible for promoting a new law providing a strict framework for ministers and parliamentarians.

He was immediately renamed to his job and is in charge of forming a government by Wednesday afternoon, the French presidency said in a statement. "On the other hand, if it's still the case two years from now, that will be a problem".

"This evening's reshuffle will bring in new names from various backgrounds: some will be from the Left like me and others will be from the Right like (prime minister) Edouard Philippe", Castaner said.

It was not immediately clear whether she would take up the parliamentary seat or give it to her backup who would have taken her place in parliament had she remained in the cabinet.

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