( AP ) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy was set Tuesday to unveil a new government line-up forced upon him after his centre-right party's worse than expected showing in parliamentary elections.
Just a month after Sarkozy took office promising major reforms, his UMP party won a National Assembly majority in Sunday's vote -- but its number of seats fell by over 40 and the opposition Socialists made surprise gains.
And in a symbolic blow to the government, the powerful environment minister and de facto deputy prime minister Alain Juppe failed to secure a seat in parliament and had to resign.
Despite the disappointment, Prime Minister Francois Fillon has insisted that the election had delivered a "majority for action... What we have said, we will now do, because pledges made to the voter form the basis of national trust."
Fillon on Monday presented his government's resignation -- a formality after legislative elections.
He arrived Tuesday morning at the Elysee presidential palace to meet with Sarkozy and was later set to announce a new list of cabinet members, with a replacement for Juppe and the addition of several junior ministers, some of them from the left or the centre.
Jean-Louis Borloo, economy minister in the outgoing government, said in Tuesday's Le Parisien newspaper that he would be replacing Juppe at the newly created environment super-ministry.
A special session of the National Assembly is to be convened from later this month to push through a first round of reforms, including changes to the tax system which are supposed to jump-start the economy and bring down 8.2 percent unemployment.
Delighted to have avoided the electoral trashing that had been predicted, the Socialists were also digesting the news that their defeated presidential candidate Segolene Royal has split from her long-time partner and the father of her four children, party leader Francois Hollande.
In a carefully timed revelation shortly after voting ended Sunday, Royal allowed an interview in a forthcoming book to be made public in which she accuses Hollande of having an affair.
The pair's marital problems have long been an open secret, but their privacy has been protected by France's strict media laws and a journalistic culture that steers clear of politicians' personal lives.
Royal's announcement was widely seen as a gambit in her bid to take over the party leadership in the long period of internal ructions likely to follow the two election defeats.
Analysts said the Socialists' strong performance in the election showed that voters heeded their warnings of an over-concentration of powers for Sarkozy. The government's announcement that it is studying increases in valued added tax also gave the Socialist Party an effective rallying cry.
Final results gave the the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) 318 seats in the 577 member Assembly and its ally the New Centre 21. The Socialist Party has 190 seats, and the Communists 17. The MoDem party of third-placed presidential candidate Francois Bayrou did better than expected with five seats.
The election failed to provide the hoped-for boost in the number of black and Arab lawmakers, with voters returning just one minority candidate on the mainland.
George Paul Langevin, from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, was elected in eastern Paris on a Socialist ticket.