France's leadership taking the reins with vigor
PARIS - France's new premier hit the ground running - literally. After a brief inauguration at which he promised to "assure an eminent place" in the world for France, reform-minded conservative Francois Fillon turned up in shorts at the presidential palace for a jog with his new boss, President Nicolas Sarkozy.
PARIS - France's new premier hit the ground running - literally.
After a brief inauguration at which he promised to "assure an eminent place" in the world for France, reform-minded conservative Francois Fillon turned up in shorts at the presidential palace for a jog with his new boss, President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The hour-long run showcased the vigor that France's new leadership wants to project after 12 years under Jacques Chirac.
Fillon, 53, was putting together a revamped cabinet to make good on promises of change and restored pride for the economically sluggish nation.
The cabinet, to be announced today, will likely be slimmed down to about eight men and seven women, including at least one minister from the opposition left. Many of those thought likely to head ministries met with Fillon at his office yesterday.
Among them was popular leftist Bernard Kouchner, a cofounder of the Nobel Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders medical charity. Kouchner, who could become foreign minister, was the first U.N. administrator for Kosovo in 1999-2000.
On the campaign trail, Sarkozy promised a break from the Chirac era of sluggish growth, failed reforms, mounting debt, persistent unemployment and 2005 riots in poor neighborhoods where many immigrants from Africa and their French-born children live.
Several Chirac-era veterans, however, met with the new premier yesterday, including Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, Labor Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and former Health Minister Xavier Bertrand.
Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe appeared poised for a remarkable political comeback, with speculation that he would be chosen to head the Ministry for Sustainable Development - newly created to help fight global warming and other environmental threats.
Juppe, who for years was thought to be Chirac's preferred successor, was convicted in a party financing scandal in 2005 and was barred from holding office for a year. Sarkozy has said battling global warming will be one of his priorities.