France's Macron and new PM Attal craft new government

France's Macron and new PM Attal craft new government

Attal has promised to be bold and fast to help the middle class weather the rising cost of living, signalling a desire by Macron to move beyond divisive reforms and improve his centrist party’s chances in European Parliament elections in June.

Little has leaked on the formation of the new cabinet, though Gerald Darmanin told French media he was confident he would stay on as interior minister. He is in charge, among other issues, of security for this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who has been in his job for seven years – rare stability in that role by French standards – also seemed keen to stay on and unveiled his plans at the ministry for the whole year in a speech on Monday.

The reshuffle is likely to intensify the race in Macron’s camp to succeed him in the next presidential election in 2027, with former prime minister Edouard Philippe, Darmanin and Le Maire all seen as potential candidates – alongside Attal.

It was unclear when the new government team would be appointed, with Senate president Gerard Larcher telling TF1 TV that Attal told him it could be done around the end of the week.

Widespread public discontent over surging living costs and last year’s contested pension reform have seriously hit Macron’s ratings, and his chances in the EU ballot, where his party trails badly behind Marine Le Pen’s far-right.

Attal has polled as one of France’s most popular politicians in recent months. A Macron loyalist, he became a household name as government spokesperson during the COVID pandemic and earned a reputation as a smooth communicator.

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