PARIS/LA ROCHELLE: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was jeered on Saturday on the way to his Socialist Party’s end-of-summer gathering, where attacks on the government’s pro-business economic policy highlighted an uncomfortable divide within France’s left.
Stepping off the train in the western port town of La Rochelle, booed by left-wing militants and unionists, Valls said it was healthy for a party to debate policy, but warned that Socialists needed to stand united or risk losing voters.
Valls reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday, evicting rebel leftist ministers who had urged President Francois Hollande for an economic policy U-turn away from budgetary rigour, and further angering many on the Socialist party’s left wing.
The shake-up raises the risk that the ousted rebels - including maverick former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg - could have enough allies in parliament to deprive the government of the majority it needs to implement reforms. Valls has said he would submit his cabinet to a parliamentary vote of confidence in September or October.
“Everywhere possible, we need to have an alliance, to bring together the nation’s forces. And this is first and foremost necessary on the left and among Socialists,” Valls told reporters upon his arrival in La Rochelle.
Earlier on Saturday, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, from the junior coalition Left Radical Party and one of the last leftist members of the new Valls government, joined a meeting of rebel Socialist lawmakers and criticised the Socialist Party for letting the French “lose faith in their future”.
Valls said he had no problem with Taubira, had come to the traditional end-of-summer gathering in “a constructive spirit” and would give a speech before his fellow Socialists on Sunday.
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