Aurélie Filippetti has resigned as French Culture Minister after the crisis in Francois Hollande’s cabinet reached a pitch over the weekend. She departed, along with the Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and Education Minister Benoit Hamon, in intense disagreement with the government’s ongoing austerity drive.
Montebourg’s public suggestion that the government should focus on economic growth rather than cuts highlighted a major split within the French cabinet that resulted in its dissolution on Sunday – less than five months after the last reshuffle. In an open letter to Hollande and the Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday, Filippetti announced that she did not wish to be considered for the new cabinet.
Filippetti was at the helm of Hollande’s election campaign, but objected in her letter to the severe cuts imposed on the arts budget since she assumed office in 2012. Her work as Culture Minister has been further hampered by criticism of the Picasso Museum’s delayed and increasingly expensive redevelopment: in May this year she dismissed the director, Anne Baldassari, for mismanagement of the project.
Valls’ new cabinet, which Hollande suggested should ‘cohere to the directions of the prime minister’, was announced yesterday and is likely to take a more centrist stance. Filippetti is replaced by Fleur Pellerin, a young politician whose previous role at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry included responsibility for small business and the digital economy.
Anne Baldassari, President of the Musée Picasso, dismissed over renovation (Caroline Rossiter)