French ministers leave for holiday but promise to stay on duty
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Taking a break from pondering never ending unemployment figures, berating agricultural farmers, the migrant crisis at Calais or the threat of homegrown terrorism, can seem a much-cherished holiday for France's leaders. They have however insisted they will continue to shoulder the burden of responsibility even from their far-off destinations.
You can jet off somewhere nice, but make sure it's close by and be sure to stay connected ! This was essentially the "instructions" given to government ministers on Friday, at the last cabinet meeting of the season.
"Of course, ministers should take a break and rest, but the business of running a country...is a permanent job which requires permanent attention," Prime minister Manuel Valls said.
And to mark his words, cabinet ministers were granted only 18 days of vacation, which saw many of them scrambling out of the Elysée presidential palace after their final session on Friday to catch their train.
However, they've been told not to travel more than 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Paris, lest a sudden crisis should erupt.
For some ministers, there are already signs that it will. Health minister Marisol Touraine will have to stay on high alert as weather forecasts predict scorching temperatures from Monday, because of a new protracted heatwave.
Meanwhile, Agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll still needs to pacify disgruntled farmers. And embattled interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, must not only solve the ever deepening migrant crisis at Calais, but also tackle the threat of homegrown terrorism.
"The interior minister is by consequent the permanent guardian of the state. We can relax a little, but we never let our guard down," Cazeneuve admitted.
All eyes are riveted on the next financial year, where President François Hollande is likely to launch his pre-campaign for re-election. Hollande, who is reputed for being averse to holidays, has made it a point of controlling the time and distance of his vacating staff.
Across the Channel, his counterpart David Cameron is unanimously famous for taking too many holidays. But Cameron has five more years in power, Hollande doesn't. He's eager to prove to the French public that he's their natural leader, which will only be convincing if he rolls back unemployment. Until then, 'chillaxing' is not on the cards.
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