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France's sports minister quits ahead of expected cabinet shuffle

France's sports minister quits ahead of expected cabinet shuffle

The new sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, was a backstroke world champion in 1998 and an Olympic silver medalist in 2000.

French President Emmanuel Macron picked a political ally and a former swimming world champion to plug two holes in his government left by the unexpected resignations of the environment and sports ministers.

French Sports Minister Laura Flessel on Tuesday announced she was quitting President Emmanuel Macron's government, the second resignation in seven days.

De Rugy is known as a pragmatist who backed Macron's decision past year to delay the phased reduction of nuclear energy in France's electricity production.

Unlike Hulot, Flessel cited "personal reasons" for her decision.

The cabinet shuffle comes as Macron is trying to rebound from his lowest approval ratings since taking office in May 2017.

A poll Tuesday showed his approval ratings at just 31 percent, down 10 points since July and the lowest since the former investment banker was swept into the presidency previous year.

More news: NAFTA talks make progress; U.S., Canadian officials to work into night

His popularity had already taken a hit before the holidays after one of his top security aides was caught on film roughing up protesters while wearing a police helmet during a Paris demonstration.

The French leader is struggling to sell a key tax reform, with businesses and the public baulking at a planned change likely to have a deep impact on voters' paychecks.

"I will continue to be a faithful team mate of the president and prime minister, whose determination I admire and whose values and patriotism I share", Flessel said in a statement.

But Macron now appears to be having doubts, saying he wants to ensure that all the kinks in the new system are ironed out before it is brought it.

Her office said her resignation was not related to tax issues, according to Mediapart.

"She did not make any mistake, that is not why she's leaving", a source close to the former minister said, adding that "her husband was the director" and co-owner of the media rights company.


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