Bernard Cazeneuve, the man who oversaw the destruction of the Calais jungle, has been named French prime minister after Manuel Valls vacated the post on Monday to run for the presidency.
Mr Cazeneuve, who as French interior minister oversaw security forces’ reaction to a string of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 230 people over the past two years, will take control of the Socialist government until legislative elections in June.
This will make him the shortest-running prime minister in modern French history.
Seen as a staunchly loyal to president François Hollande, who announced last week that he would not be running for re-election, Mr Cazeneuve was reportedly at one point mooted to take up a “super-ministry” to include his former job as top cop and head of the executive.
In the event, Bruno Le Roux, leader of the Socialists in the lower house of parliament, will take over the interior portfolio.
Mr Cazeneuve, 53, an austere, well-respected former lawyer, has served in various government roles, including budget minister and minister in charge of European affairs, before becoming interior minister in April 2014.
The reshuffle came after Mr Valls’ announcement on Monday night that he was stepping down as prime minister after two and half years to contest the Socialist presidential primary in January.
Mr Valls, a reformist who has previously declared France’s fractured Left-wing “irreconcilable”, tacked Left in a speech to launch his candidacy, saying: “My candidacy is one of reconciliation.”
He vowed to take on the conservative Republicans and the far-right National Front led by Marine Le Pen, which he warned was “at the gates of power” and would “ruin” the poor if elected.
Polls currently place Ms Le Pen and conservative candidate Francois Fillon well in front in the opening round of the presidential election on April 23, with Mr Fillon expected to beat Le Pen in May’s second round.
Should he win his party’s primary, Mr Valls would crash out fifth in the presidential race on 10 percent, trailing Mr Fillon, Ms Le Pen, centrist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron and the Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, an Ifop-Fiducial poll showed on Tuesday.