Press verdict on French government: more of the same, only worse

·3 min read
© AP/Christophe Petit Tesson

Despite two weeks of negotiations aimed at creating a stable parliamentary majority with the aid of opposition groups considered "constructive", the Borne II cabinet named on Monday includes no members from the opposition ranks. A clear sign of failure, according to the majority of the French daily papers.

President Macron starts again, says Le Monde, but he does so under the cloud of failure.

After 15 days of reaching across some of the narrower gulfs in the French political landscape, attempting to convince moderate opponents to join a coalition of interest which would ensure Elisabeth Borne a stable parliamentary majority, the composition of the new cabinet indicates that it was all a waste of time.

There'll be no coalition.

Without an absolute majority, without a voting pact with a sufficient number of opposition figures, the Borne II government is going to struggle to get propositions through parliament, certainly on sensitive issues such as the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 65 years.

Le Monde says the 42-member team is predominantly made up of well-known members of the Macron universe, familiar figures obliged to play musical chairs to compensate for those who failed to win seats in the last election.

The political opposition have been less polite.

"A dribble of lukewarm water on a volcanic erruption," was how Socialist leader Olivier Faure categorised the new team.

"Has-beens from the last government, with the scrapings of Macron's bottom drawer," said Aurélien Taché, now a Green MP, once a member of the Republic on the Move.

"A government of friends, near friends and acquaintances to take on the historic challenges facing our country!" sizzled mainstream righ-winger, Aurélien Pradié. "You call that a reshuffle?"

A deliberate choice?

The executive has been quick to underline the voluntary nature of the choices made by president and prime minister.

Including a few "traitors" from other parties in the cabinet team would only have increased political friction, says Le Monde, without ensuring the passage of controversial legislation.

Now, Elisabeth Borne is free to negotiate specific deals with the Republicans or the Greens on individual laws.

"Our country needs change and reform," said President Macron on Monday. "France also needs a show of responsibility to enable us to arrive at constructive compromise."

The political opposition have been warned. There will be blood.

Disappointment to left and right

"More members, same policies" is right-wing Le Figaro's headline dismissal of a government which, the paper says, lacks originality and shows that the Macron experiment has run out of steam.

Le Figaro's on-line readers' poll, with 160,000 votes at noon, showed 70 percent expressing dissatisfaction with the cabinet re-organisation.

Left-leaning Libération is not impressed by a government without inspiration. The paper wonders what happened to the presidential promise to give priority to the environment. Or the earlier presidential promise to reduce the number of ministers. Worse, Libé says the technical male-female equality in the new team is pure window dressing.

Libération says Emmanuel Macron's message to his new ministers was very simple: "Hang on!"

As for the struggling planet, Libé thinks that the casting revealed on Monday is a clear indication that promised environmental priorities will have to take their place at the back of a long queue of politically more pressing concerns.

And yes, admits Libération, there are 21 women in the new 42-member team. So, equality is respected? Not really, estimates the left-leaning daily, since the heavyweight ministries have all gone to men, with the women picking up the domestic tasks.

Of the 16 ministries, only five will be headed by women. Among the ten junior ministers, the tendency is reversed, with only one man and nine women.

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