A major re-shuffle by France’s ruling Socialist party has seen Ségolène Royal, a former French presidential candidate and the ex-partner of President François Hollande, join the government.
It was announced on Wednesday that Royal would hold the post of environment minister in the cabinet of newly appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls, reports the BBC.
The decision to appoint Royal, who ran for the French presidency against Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, came in the wake of speculations over whether she would return from the political wilderness after a long period of absence. Royal is the mother of Hollande's four children, but has been separated from him since 2007. The president lived with Valerie Trierweiler after the separation, but that relationship ended after revelations of an affair between Hollande and actress Julie Gayet.
Polls have shown Hollande to be one of France’s most unpopular presidents in recent history, after failing to restore the country’s ailing economy. His party was dealt a crushing defeat in municipal elections earlier this week, forcing prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to quit. Hollande appointed Valls and a new selection of ministers described as a “government of combat.”