Apr. 1 - French President Francois Hollande names new prime minister after Socialist rout in local elections. Paul Chapman reports.
French President Francois Hollande named his new prime minister within hours of local election results that gave his Socialist party a hammering. In comes centrist Interior Minister Manuel Valls, known for his pro-business ideas and dashing style. Out goes Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose government was accused of amateurism and paralysing policy splits. The poll saw the Socialists lose control of more than 150 towns to the centre-right UMP and 11 to the far right National Front. There was also a record number of abstentions. Dominique Moisi of the French Institute for International Relations says it's a clear message to Hollande and his party. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DOMINIQUE MOISI, SENIOR ADVISOR AT FRENCH INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, SAYING: "It was a debacle as the left itself called the result of the election and it proved a rejection of the president, a rejection of the government, a rejection of his policy, it combines the personal and the direction, and so the margin of manoeuvring of Francois Hollande is in fact extremely slim." The incoming prime minister is expected to present plans for a slimmed-down government team before Hollande heads off to an international summit in Brussels on Wednesday.