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Ségolène Royal - out of the wilderness into the government

Ségolène Royal
Ségolène Royal Reuters/Charles Platiau

Former presidential candidate, former partner to François Hollande: Ségolène Royal's career took another turn this week with her nominaiton as environment and energy minister in new Prime Minister Manuel Valls's government. It marks a new chapter in her long personal and political relationship with the current president.

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Royal and Hollande have four children together from a relationship that began when they were students in the late 1970s.

They never married.

Their personal links broke during Royal's failed presidential bid in 2007, as Hollande took up with journalist Valérie Trierweiler.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

But the pair kept their political connection going, and Royal even endorsed Hollande's own run for the presidency in 2012.

That reportedly made Trierweiler intensely jealous, and the first girlfriend allegedly vetoed Royal's nomination to Jean-Marc Ayrault's government.

With Trierweiler now out of the picture following January's revelations of Hollande's alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet, the stage was set for Royal's return.

"The fatwa has been lifted," one of her allies commented.

The media-savvy Royal wasn't shy about criticising the government's performance when she was on the sidelines.

So now questions abound over what dynamic she will bring to the table and how she will work alongside Hollande, now that they are both the political stars they dreamed of becoming when they first met.

Royal has already been a minister. She has already held the job of environment minister under Socialist president François Mitterrand, followed by spells at education in 1997-2000 and family policy in 2000-2002.

Following her unsuccessful presidential bid in 2007, she failed to be adopted as the party's candidate in 2012, being caught on camera in tears when she heard the news that she had only won seven per cent in the Socialist primaries.

Then, she failed to be reelected to parliament, beaten by Olivier Falorni, a Socialist who broke ranks and famously received a tweet of support from Trierweiler.

She kept a power base, howver, in the form of the presidency of the regional council of Poitou-Charentes, which she cites as a model of eco-friendly policies.

After a day or two's hesitation, she has decided to leave that job in line with the government's declared opposition to MPs and ministers holding several elected posts, Le Monde reports.

She has promised to try to involve the Green Party, EELV, in her ministry's policies, despite the fact that they quit the government over Valls's appointment.

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