Macron Seeks to Recharge French Presidency With Major Reshuffle

Emmanuel Macron asked his government, including Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, to resign on Friday as the French president seeks a fresh start after a disastrous municipal election last month.

Macron will name a new prime minister on Friday, his office said in a statement. While it isn’t yet known who the president will tap, it’s likely that Philippe, who recently won a mayoral race, will not be chosen.

Macron, 42, is seeking a new lease of political life. He underestimated the impact of the Yellow Vests, which morphed from a grassroots movement opposed to higher fuel taxes into a nationwide phenomenon that at its peak turned violent. The protesters never went away. Instead, their list of grievances just grew longer.

They now join unions in opposing an overhaul to a pension system made all the more unaffordable by an economy in recession. There is unhappiness with his uneven handling of a pandemic that has caused nearly 30,000 French deaths. His Republic on the Move party was broadly rejected in a June 28 municipal ballot that saw the Green Party gain strongholds throughout the country.

Macron Seeks to Recharge French Presidency With Major Reshuffle

Former Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, Defense Minister Florence Parly and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian have been eyed as possible successors to Philippe. Jean Castex, the civil servant who oversaw the end of the Covid-19 lockdown, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Valerie Pecresse, the conservative president of the Paris region, are also seen as potential candidates.

‘New Path’

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who’s at the heart of the government’s response to the economic crisis born in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, said he was not interested by the job of prime minister, even though he is among the most popular politicians in France.

Macron has been walking a fine line between promises to overhaul his policies while also standing by commitments to make the nation more friendly to international investors. So far, he’s pledged that his government would invest an extra 15 billion euros ($16.9 billion) over the next two years to facilitate the economy’s environmental transition.

Macron said in an interview with regional French newspapers on Thursday that the country needed to follow a “new path” based around the economic, social and environmental reconstruction of the country. He added that this would be accompanied by a “new team” in government.

While it’s expected that Macron will name a new prime minister on Friday, it could take days to appoint all the other governmental posts.

Philippe, whose popularity has risen during the coronavirus crisis, has been eyed as a possible contender in the next presidential election in 2022. In an Elabe poll published this month, 57% of respondents said Philippe should remain in his post as prime minister.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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