Battle over Austerity Collapses French Government

French President François Hollande took the dramatic step Monday of dissolving the country’s government in the midst of a heated row over unpopular austerity policies—a move that effectively forced austerity critics from their positions and created a new cabinet of loyalists.

The upheaval marks the second time in less than five months that Hollande has orchestrated a shake-up of the French cabinet and comes amid rising opposition to the austerity policies of the president, whose approval rating has plummeted to 17 percent.

Amid a growing rift within the Socialist Party over austerity, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg was featured in an interview with French paper Le Monde, published Saturday, in which he called for the president to abandon the country’s “dogmatic” austerity policies, which he charged as “absurd” and subservient to Germany’s far-right political forces.

In response to this and other public criticisms from ministers—which John Palmer describes in the Guardian as an “austerity revolt,” Hollande’s office released a statement Monday announcing that Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been tasked with forming a new government “that supports the objectives [Hollande] has set out for the country.”