Friday,12 August 2022
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Benoit Hamon

New education minister in France

France has a new government, including a new minister in charge of higher education and research. Genevieve Fioraso has been replaced by Benoit Hamon.

Hamon (47) joins the government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has replaced Jean-Marc Ayrault following poor results for the Socialist Party of President Francois Hollande in municipal elections at the end of March.

Hamon´s new post is a promotion for him – he was previously a junior minister in the Ministry for Economy and Finances, with responsibility for ´social and solidarity-based economy, and consumption´.

When still at high school Hamon was a leading activist in a massive student protest movement against the 1986 Devaquet reforms, which would have introduced student selection at university entrance. The legislation was subsequently withdrawn.

He was a member of the national students´ union UNEF, a recognised springboard into leftist politics, and he graduated from the University of Brest with a degree in history. From 1993 to 1995 he was president of the Mouvement des Jeunes Socialistes.

Hamon has spent most of his career within the Socialist party, maintaining strong links with its youth movements. He was a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009, and was elected to the National Assembly in 2012. He is regarded as being on the left wing of the Socialist party.

He conducted a nationwide debate to determine the future of higher education and research, which led to a new law in 2013.This amended legislation enacted by the previous right-wing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy which gave universities greater autonomy but was criticised by unions for introducing competition between institutions, and was blamed for contributing to continuing financial difficulties at some universities.

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