French President and PM reshuffle cabinet to launch Macron’s second term

·3 min read
REUTERS - POOL

President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne have reshuffled the government for the second time in six weeks, hoping for a fresh start for Macron's second term, after his party lost its parliamentary majority in June elections.

Monday's reshuffle has ushered in little sign of renewal at the top – foreign, finance, defence, interior and justice ministers remained in place.

Of the other posts in the 41-strong cabinet – which respects gender parity – mostly went to politicians from the different factions in Macron's camp.

The shake-up sees the return of former health minister Olivier Véran, who steered France through the Covid crisis, to Macron's inner circle.

Véran takes on the high profile role of government spokesperson and will have the tough job of selling the government's policies to a disguntled electorate concerned over rising inflation.

Marlène Schiappa, the former equality minister who took care of "citizenship" at the interior ministry before the presidential election but who was then dropped in the first reshuffle, also returns to government office as secretary of state for "social and solidarity economy and associative life".

Finding replacements

There are some new faces however.

French Red Cross chief Jean-Christophe Combe replaces Damien Abad as the solidarity minister with responsibility for disabled people. Abad lost his post after being investigated on rape allegations, which he denies.

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, a gynaecologist who has also been accused of "rape" by several of her patients, lost her post as secretary of state for development. She denies any wrongdoing.

In a surprise move, OECD chief economist Laurence Boone has been named Europe minister, replacing Macron loyalist Clement Beaune, who was moved to the transport ministry.

Franck Riester, the outgoing trade minister, takes over from Olivier Véran as junior minister in charge of relations with parliament.

The reshuffle was partly prompted by the need to find replacements for three ministers (health, environment, the sea) who are forced to resign following their defeat in last month's parliamentary elections.

François Braun, head of casualty at a public hospital in eastern France, replaces Brigitte Bourgignon as health minister.

Christophe Béchu, mayor of the Loire city of Angers and a close ally of former prime minister Edouard Philippe, takes over from Amélie de Montchalin in the key post of environment minister.

Hervé Berville, a Breton lawmaker, becomes junior minister for the seas, replacing Justine Bénin, who lost her parliamentary seat in the French Caribbean.

Governing without an absolute majority

Prime Minister Borne is expected to lay out the new government's programme before parliament on Wednesday.

The government said it would not hold a traditional high-stakes confidence vote afterwards.

Macron beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen in April's presidential run-off to win a new five-year term.

But in last month's parliamentary elections, his Renaissance party failed to win the absolute majority he needs to push through his reform programme, notably raising the age of retirement from 62 to 65.

Key cabinet posts:

  • Bruno Le Maire: economy

  • Gérald Darmanin: interior and overseas territories

  • Catherine Colonna, Europe and Foreign Affairs

  • Eric Dupond-Moretti: justice

  • Sébastien Lecornu: defence

  • Olivier Dussopt: labour

  • Pap Ndiaye: education and youth

  • Sylvie Retailleau: higher education and research

  • Marc Fesneau: agriculture and food soverignty

  • Christophe Béchu: ecological transition

  • Agnès Pannier-Runacher: energy transition

  • Rima Abdul-Malak: culture

  • Francois Braun: health

  • Jean-Christophe Combe: solidarity, autonomy and disabilities

  • Stanislas Guerini: transformation and public sector

  • Amélie Oudéa-Castera: sport

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