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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
France's key players
Jean-Pierre Raffarin greets supporters after news of the landslide win
Raffarin made very few changes to the interim cabinet
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, appointed interim prime minister after President Jacques Chirac's re-election last month, has announced the members of the new cabinet.

The interim cabinet, which led the country into the weekend's legislative elections, remains largely unchanged. BBC News Online looks at France's administration.

Interior and domestic security: Nicolas Sarkozy

The 47-year-old former mayor of the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly, is the crime fighter at the head of the beefed-up interior ministry.

Nicholas Sarkozy
Nicholas Sarkozy: Powerful security role
He is seen as a hardline conservative and is one of the core group of veterans from Jacques Chirac's Rally for the Republic (RPR) party.

Crime was one of the key issues of the presidential campaign and, in an attempt to stem the nation's spiralling crime rate, Mr Sarkozy is expected to reorganise police, gendarme and customs officers and send police squads into tough inner-city areas.

Foreign affairs: Dominique de Villepin

Mr de Villepin, 48, became Mr Chirac's top adviser at the Elysee when he was elected president in 1995.

Dominique de Villepin
Mr de Villepin is a career diplomat

The career diplomat started his career in 1980 when he was in charge of southern Africa at the Foreign Ministry.

Mr de Villepin also served as a foreign policy adviser on the Middle East and spokesman for the French Embassy in Washington.

Finance: Francis Mer

Last month the co-president of giant steel firm Arcelor became the first industrialist to take up the finance post since France's Fifth Republic was founded in 1958.

He is credited by many as the saviour of the French steel industry, having overseen the privatisation of Usinor and later moulded it into Arcelor, now the world's largest steel enterprise.

Francis Mer
Francis Mer is expected to promote radical reform
Mr Mer, 62, is widely regarded as a socially conscious figure who worked closely with labour unions to ease the pain of layoffs and restructuring in the steel industry in the early 1990s.

His appointment is widely seen as an indication of the reforming policies the new administration aims to follow, ahead of parliamentary elections.

The finance minister is expected to promote radical reform within the finance ministry - an institution with a reputation for resisting change.

Justice: Dominique Perben

Mr Perben - a lawmaker from the RPR - has been a member of the French parliament and mayor of Chalon-sur-Saone.

Defence: Michele Alliot-Marie

Michele Alliot-Marie
Michele Alliot-Marie is France's first female defence minister
The 55-year-old president of the RPR party is the first woman to hold the post.

Education and youth: Luc Ferry

The academic, philosopher and essayist was seen as an unexpected addition to the interim cabinet.

Before his appointment, however, he was a long-serving adviser to the conservatives. For example, he was the president of the National Curriculum Council, responsible for drawing up education reforms in France

Mr Ferry has been hailed as one of a new generation of French philosophers who combine the skills of university lecturer with those of essayist capable of appealing to the general public.

Some of his work focuses on his main argument that, today more than ever before, the issue of meaning and purpose is crucial in a modern democratic and secular society.

Another of those reconfirmed in their posts who came from outside the usual political ranks is Jean-Jacques Aillagon, minister of culture and communication, who used to be the president of the Georges Pompidou Centre.

Labour and social affairs: Francois Fillon

Mr Fillon was telecommunications minister between 1993 and 1995.

He has a reputation of being a low-key modest person.

He has distanced himself from the Gaullist RPR party and has worked with smaller liberal and centre right parties, which are traditionally allied to the RPR but remain independent.

Other appointments include: Transport, Gilles de Robien; environment, Roselyne Bachelot; health and family, Jean-Francois Mattei; agriculture and fisheries, Herve Gaymard; civil service and state reform, Jean-Paul Delevoye; relations with overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin; sports, Jean-Francois Lamour.

Tokia Saifi - a European deputy and reportedly the first person born of North African immigrants to enter a government of the Fifth Republic - remains in charge of sustainable development.


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