PRIME Minister François Fillon is standing down, along with the rest of his ministers, today.
The formal resignation, as part of the handover to the new Socialist government, comes as he and the outgoing president exchanged compliments at a final cabinet meeting yesterday.
The government will be aiming to finish off their most pressing business over the next few days.
The cabinet meeting was reportedly an emotional one, with Sarkozy given standing applause by the 32 ministers.
Fillon defended the record of the last five years, saying that Mr Sarkozy’s “main promise” had been kept, that of “getting France moving”. “We did it with more reforms than any other government,” he said.
Sarkozy returned the compliment, saying: “No other couple has got on so well in the Fifth Republic” and “we were different, but thank goodness; if we were both just the same it would have been intolerable”.
Appointed in May 2007, Fillon has held the prime minister’s job for longer than any other in the Fifth Republic apart from Pompidou. His image has been understated compared to Sarkozy’s “omnipresent” and more flashy presidential style.
Fillon, 58, whose former roles included the posts of education minister and social affairs minister, acted as an adviser to Sarkozy during his 2007 presidential campaign. He is tipped as a future presidential contender for 2017.
His wife, Penelope, is Welsh and he is reputed to be an anglophile.
Photo: Rama/ Wikimedia Commons