PARIS: French prime minister Lionel Jospin has named Yves Colmou as
his latest communications adviser.
Colmou replaces Manuel Valls, who on March 18 was elected the mayor of
Evry, a southern suburb of Paris.
Colmou's job is to oversee all PR and communications surrounding the
prime minister on a day-to-day basis.
He will also work closely with the prime minister's communications
staff, which is headed by Bernard Candiard and Philippe Guibert.
Valls is widely credited with Jospin's election as prime minister in
1997, and for his relatively good showing in opinion polls since then.
Sources in the prime minister's office say Valls will continue to advise
Jospin, but purely on a private basis.
It is believed that Jospin will announce his candidacy for the French
presidency later this year. Elections will be held in the spring of
According to a recent BVA-Paris Match poll, Jospin would defeat
incumbent president Jacques Chirac by between 48% and 52% if elections
were held now.
There is speculation that Jospin encouraged Valls to run for mayor of
Evry so that he would be more accessible to the prime minister; it is
thought that Jospin wants to organize his presidential campaign outside
the confines of the Matignon Palace, his official residence.
Jospin has recently suffered from a series of PR disasters, including a
strike in March by train drivers. The strike forced the government to
call off a reform of SNCF, the state-run train network. Just last week,
residents in the north of France criticized Jospin when the town of
Abbeville flooded. They accused the government of diverting waters away
from Paris in order to preserve the city's bid to host the 2008 Olympic
Games. Though untrue, the rumor is an example of provincial resentment
towards the capital city.
Jospin also reportedly lost his temper in public while on a trip to
Brazil last week, during which he lambasted two journalists for not
writing about a speech he gave on globalization.