During his electoral campaign, Hollande had pledged to reduce the share of nuclear energy in the power supply from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025, and to close the oldest French nuclear plant of Fessenheim. Environmentalists criticized Hollande and the former government of Jean-Marc Ayrault for not pushing hard for these green goals.
The government shake-up was expected after Hollande's Socialist party suffered big losses in nation-wide voting for mayors and city counselors last week. Voters turned against the Socialists amid disillusionment with Hollande's inability to keep campaign promises to bring down record unemployment and turn around the economy.
Following Wednesday's government shake-up, the ambitious Valls will have to cope with the more leftist views of Hollande's entourage. Countering those who criticize his Socialist credentials, Valls repeated in a TV interview Wednesday night, "I am a man of the left."
He said the president told him in substance when conferring the prime minister's post on him "we must act quickly."
There have been widespread reports of an undercurrent of tension between Hollande and Valls, who is said to have presidential ambitions. Born in Spain, naturalized French at 20, Valls said his goal is to serve France "so the French have more pride in their country."
Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian keep their positions as foreign affairs and defense ministers in the new government. Former Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has left the government and the brief has been split between two Socialists: Michel Sapin will take charge of finance, and Arnaud Montebourg will be in charge of industry and economy.
Sapin will have the tough job to negotiate with EU authorities regarding France's deficit.
The new government is composed of 16 ministers —eight men and eight women. Most were part of the outgoing government, with the exceptions of Royal and Francois Rebsamen, one of Hollande's closest friends, who was named minister of labor and employment.