(FILES) This file picture dated on August 23, 2013 shows Head of Poitou-Charentes regional council Segolene Royal delivering a speech in the Atlantic coastal city of La Rochelle. AFP PHOTO / XAVIER LEOTY
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French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday recalled his former partner Segolene Royal from the political wilderness to join a new, streamlined government, days after his Socialist Party suffered an election drubbing.Sunday's stinging setback in nationwide municipal elections prompted Hollande to sack premier Jean-Marc Ayrault and replace him with tough-talking former interior minister Manuel Valls, 51 .The two wasted no time in radically reshaping the government, appointing two new faces in a cabinet of just 16 ministers -- less than half the 38 in the previous line-up -- faced with the mammoth challenges of bringing down unemployment and boosting almost non-existent growth whilst operating in tough budget constraints.Royal, Hollande's ex-partner and mother of his four children, was named environment and energy minister in a spectacular return to mainstream politics for the woman who lost the 2007 presidential election to Nicolas Sarkozy.Hollande has tasked Valls with implementing a package of pro-business policies known as the Responsibility Pact, which cuts taxes on firms that are widely viewed as hampering employment and growth, to be financed by spending cuts of 50 billion euros ($69 billion).
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