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PM Normal for President Normal

Hollande calls Jean-Marc Ayrault to be new prime minister - as Aubry stays out

AFTER the new President Normal in François Hollande, France has a new Prime Minister Normal in Nantes mayor and the leader of the Socialist group in the National Assembly, Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The former German teacher and VW campervan owner has moved in to the Matignon despite, like Hollande, never having served previously as a minister.

However, they both worked closely with former prime minister Lionel Jospin at Matignon and have been enmeshed in the intricacies of the political system in Paris and the regions.

Ayrault is named ahead of Martine Aubry, Hollande's losing rival for the presidential candidature. She will not be in his government.

After Hollande had told her she would not be his prime minister she said her "presence in the government made no sense" if she was not leading it.

She was rumoured to have been chosed as education minister but told Le Monde that she had "not asked for anything, nor negotiated anything".

Hollande and Ayrault have known each other since 1997 and both are from the same "reformist left" wing of the Parti Socialiste and prefer to find a consensus in policy.

During the election campaign Ayrault had special responsibity for building contacts with other centre-left parties in Europe, particularly with the German Social Democrats, and these are likely to be used as Hollande aims to build relations with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He has been criticised as being too smooth and a bit bland - echoes of the "Flanby" and "mild left" criticisms of Hollande - but MPs have called him the "cement" that binds the party together in the Assembly.

However, he has been targeted by the opposition UMP for a conviction 15 years ago for "favouritism" in awarding a printing contract. He received a six-month suspended sentence, but said he was not personally involved and had taken responsibility as he was mayor.

He has been mayor of Nantes since 1989 and is a departmental councillor in Loire-Atlantique.

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