President Emmanuel Macron on Monday named Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne as prime minister to lead his ambitious reform plans, the first woman to head the French government in over 30 years.
Outgoing French Prime Minister Jean Castex earlier handed his resignation to the president, part of a widely expected reshuffle to make way for a new government in the wake of Macron’s re-election in April.
Ending weeks of speculation, the Elysee confirmed Borne’s nomination in a statement and she then headed to the Matignon residence of the premier in Paris for the handover with Castex.
The centrist Macron will need a legislative majority to push through his domestic agenda following his re-election, with a new left-wing alliance and the far-right threatening to block his programme.
Those criteria reflect his desire to focus on schools and health in the early part of his second term, as well as the climate crisis which he has promised to prioritise.
Borne, 61, is seen as an able technocrat who can negotiate prudently with unions, as the president embarks on a new package of social reforms that notably include a rise in the retirement age which risks sparking protests.
“It was high time there was another woman,” Cresson, who knows Borne personally, told BFM-TV.
She expressed amazement that it had taken France — which has never had a female head of state — so long to have another woman prime minister.
– ‘Inability to unite’ –
Le Pen and defeated hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon are both eyeing comebacks in the parliamentary elections on June 12 and 19 that would give them the ability to thwart Macron.
Macron’s rivals were less complementary about Borne, whose appointment Le Pen said showed the president’s “inability to unite and his desire to pursue his policy of contempt.”
Castex had intended to resign immediately after the presidential election in line with French tradition, but was persuaded by Macron to stay on while he lined up a replacement.
He will mostly be remembered for his management of the latter stages of the Covid-19 pandemic but also windmill arm gestures and habit of forgetting where he had placed his glasses.