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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Chirac names new government
UMP supporters in Paris
The centre-right is now in a very strong position
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has formed a new government, a day after President Jacques Chirac's centre-right allies scored a landslide win in the parliamentary elections.

The new cabinet, announced on Monday evening by Mr Chirac's office, closely resembles Mr Raffarin's interim administration, with no changes to the major ministries.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Raffarin is set to outline policy next month
Nicolas Sarkozy remains at the head of a superministry of the interior and public security, while Dominique de Villepin and Michele Alliot-Marie remain at the helm of foreign affairs and defence respectively.

One minister who was not reappointed was Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, European affairs minister in the interim cabinet, who resigned on Monday. He is under investigation for his alleged involvement in an illegal party funding scandal.

In all, nine changes were made to the 27-member government, including the appointment of the former European parliament speaker, Nicole Fontaine, as industry minister.

End of 'cohabitation'

President Chirac reappointed Prime Minister Raffarin after the government coalition parties trounced the left and sent the far-right back to the political margins.

Cabinet ministers
Interior: Nicolas Sarkozy
Foreign affairs: Dominique de Villepin
Defence: Michele Alliot-Marie
Finance: Francis Mer
Industry: Nicole Fontaine
European affairs: Noelle Lenoir

Mr Chirac has promised to deliver large tax cuts, streamline the civil service, reform pensions and combat crime.

The UMP - an alliance of groups backing the recently re-elected president - won an absolute majority, with 354 seats in the 577-seat parliament. Other right-wing parties won 45 seats.

The Socialists and other left-wing parties won just 178, and Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front failed to take a single seat.

The first session of the newly elected National Assembly should take place on 25 June, while the prime minister is to deliver a speech outlining the government's main policies in early July.

Sunday's vote ended the five years of uneasy "cohabitation" Mr Chirac has endured with a left-wing prime minister.

The president's allies dominate not only the national assembly, but also the Senate, the regional governments and the constitutional council.

High profile losses

The Socialists - who won the last parliamentary elections in 1997 - now face a complete re-think of their role in French and European politics.

Having held on to about 140 seats, Sunday's vote was not quite the rout they had feared. But the failure of some big name Socialists to retain their seats has underlined the extent of the party's defeat.

Among the casualties were Martine Aubry, a former labour minister who brought in a law reducing the working week, maverick former interior minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement, and Gilbert Mitterrand, son of the late president Francois Mitterrand.

Their Communist allies won 21 seats, with the party's leader, Robert Hue, losing his seat in the north of Paris.

Former environment minister Dominique Voynet, who was party secretary of the Greens, also lost her seat.

National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said he was not disappointed by the failure of his party to get a single seat, because he had not expected to win any.

The BBC's Jon Sopel
"The right have won, but now, they must deliver"
The BBC's Paul Anderson
"Jacques Chirac lost no time in confirming the team which will implement the programs promised"
The BBC's James Rogers
"The Socialists were in disarray"

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16 Jun 02 | Europe
17 Jun 02 | Europe
16 Jun 02 | Europe
16 Jun 02 | UK Politics
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