Government reshuffle comes after President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party suffered deep losses against right-wing National Front party in the country's municipal elections
PARIS - French President Francois Hollande has confirmed that Interior Minister Manuel Valls is to become the country's new prime minister following the resignation of Jean-Marc Ayrault in a televised speech to the nation Monday.
"It is time today to open a new chapter," said Hollande in his televised speech.
Spanish born Valls, 51, according to recent opinion polls is currently the most popular politician in France. Born in Barcelona 1962 he became a French citizen at 20. He has four children from his first marriage which ended in divorce and has been married to the violinist Anne Gravoin since 2010.
Valls is known as a hardliner on immigration and security holding controversial views during his time as interior minister.
Ayrault, who had served as prime minister since 2012 after Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in the national elections, and his cabinet resigned earlier Monday, a day after the ruling Socialist party lost more than 150 towns and cities to the main opposition and far-right in municipal elections.
It is the first time that a French prime minister has resigned following local elections under France's Fifth Republic.
"Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, prime minister, this afternoon handed in his resignation to the government and to the president of the Republic," a communique from the prime minister's official residence Matignon stated.
In a recent survey published in the French daily Le Parisien 85 percent of French people, including Socialist supporters, wanted to see Ayrault step down.
Local Socialist Party leaders blamed the government's lack of popularity for their losses claiming voters were venting their anger.
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