Who will Hollande put in rue de Varenne?

Now that France has chosen François Hollande to lead the country, there is a day or two to review potential agriculture ministerial front runners. In June, the country will return to the polls to vote for a new parliament.

Picture credits: European Parliament, French state and French National Assembly

However, since ministers are appointed by the president, the line-up for the Hollande government will probably be announced before then. Nor would Hollande have to look any further than his campaign team to find two suitable candidates.

The older contender has been the Socialist Party’s agriculture spokesman since 2005. Germinal Peiro is a deputé from the Dordogne who has been the public face for party’s agriculture policy in the media during the presidential campaign.

A former kayak world silver medallist, Peiro is no stranger to the white water of French political life. In 2008, he addressed the National Assembly to voice his opposition to GM crops, which in his view left the previous year’s Grenelle environmental debate dead in the water.

During the presidential campaign, Peiro urged a budget for the CAP that would help to meet the challenges that it faces, not least the environmental ones. His party also appealed to retired and soon-to-retire farmers, with a commitment to resolve the ongoing controversy of agricultural pensions.

Another possible candidate is Stéphane Le Foll, Hollande’s campaign manager. An MEP on the agriculture committee, Le Foll is committed to ensuring that the CAP should also help to generate more employment in the rural economy.

A city councillor in Le Mans, Le Foll was a lecturer at local agricultural colleges and faculties, before becoming a technical adviser to farm minister Louis Le Pensec◊in 1997. Between 1997 and 2008, he was Hollande’s chef de cabinet and is currently leading a readers’ straw poll in regional paper Ouest France. This may be down to his reputation as a regional political figure in the solidly agricultural west of France or possibly because he knows first hand how the European Parliament’s agriculture committee operates.

Before the elections, Samuel Feret spoke to Le Foll for ARC (here and here), and believes that Le Foll is a more likely choice. Peiro lacks the European network connections that Le Foll has been cultivating for years now. There would be a certain degree of continuity after former diplomat Bruno Le Maire.

Peter Crosskey
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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.