Macron appoints a new Prime Minister before the legislative elections | Political news

President Emmanuel Macron has appointed Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne as prime minister to lead his ambitious reform plans, the first woman to lead the French government in more than 30 years.

Earlier on Monday, outgoing French Prime Minister Jean Castex tendered his resignation to the president, in a widely expected reshuffle to make way for a new government following Macron’s re-election in April.

The last female Prime Minister, Edith Cresson, briefly led the cabinet from May 1991 to April 1992 under President François Mitterrand.

Ending weeks of speculation, the Elysee Palace confirmed Borne’s appointment in a statement and she then headed to the prime minister’s Matignon residence in Paris for the handover with Castex.

The departure of Castex, who was a surprise pick for the role in 2020, allows Macron to reshape the cabinet ahead of a crucial parliamentary election in June. The new government under Borne should be announced in the coming days.

“Most people in France will know her because she has been a minister under Macron since his first election in 2017,” said Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris.

Borne has already held several positions as Minister of Transport, Minister of Ecological Transition and recently Minister of Labor. His latest post, Butler said, is something that “will be seen by the president as very useful as he seeks to push through pension reforms during his next term.”

Speculation has been high in recent weeks over Castex’s replacement, with Macron indicating he wants a woman with left-wing and environmental credentials.

These criteria reflect his desire to focus on schools and health at the start of his second term, as well as the climate crisis which he has promised to prioritize.

“Macron had indicated that he wanted to appoint a woman, he also indicated that he might seek to appoint someone with green credentials or leftist credentials. This is because he is keeping tabs on the upcoming elections. legislative elections in June, in which a new left-wing alliance is seen as a threat to Macron’s ability to try to form a majority in the National Assembly,” Butler added.

‘Time to’

Borne, 61, is seen as a capable technocrat who can negotiate cautiously with unions as the president embarks on a new package of social reforms that include an increase in the retirement age that is likely to trigger protests .

“It was high time there was another woman,” Cresson, the former prime minister who knows Borne personally, told BFM-TV.

“She is a remarkable person, with a great experience in the public and private sectors… She is a very good choice because she is a remarkable person, not because she is a woman,” she said. added.

“France is very backward – not the French population but the political class,” added Cresson, who has been the target of numerous sexist attacks during his tenure.

“Impossible to unite”

Macron, 44, recorded a solid victory in the April 24 presidential election against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, winning 59-41%.

Both Le Pen and defeated far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon are eyeing a return to the June 12-19 legislative elections that would give them the ability to thwart Macron.

Melenchon recently persuaded the Socialist, Communist and Green parties to enter into an alliance under his leadership that unites the left around a common platform for the first time in decades.

Macron’s rivals were less complimentary of Borne, whose appointment, according to Le Pen, showed “the president’s inability to unite and his willingness to continue his policy of contempt”.

Melenchon scoffed at the idea that Borne had come from the left, describing her as “one of the harshest figures of social abuse” in France’s ruling elite.

Castex intended to step down immediately after the presidential election in line with French tradition, but was persuaded by Macron to stay while he lined up a replacement.

The bespectacled 56-year-old, from rural south-west France, has a no-frills style and strong regional accent that has endeared him to many French people.

He will be remembered most for his handling of the last stages of the COVID-19 pandemic but also for his windmill arm gestures and his habit of forgetting where he had placed his glasses.

“For almost two years he worked with passion and commitment in the service of France,” Macron said in a farewell tweet to Castex, who made it clear he had no plans for a higher position.

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