French election: Macron loses absolute majority in parliament in ‘democratic shock’

Macron appoints COVID minister to be new face of government policy

World News


President Emmanuel Macron on Monday turned to the health minister who steered France through COVID to sell the government’s policies to an electorate worried about a spike in inflation as he carried out a limited reshuffle.

Key roles such as the prime minister and finance minister remained unchanged in the reshuffle that signalled no policy changes and was criticised by the opposition as being tone-deaf after elections in which Macron’s centrist alliance lost control of parliament.

“We have so much to do to rebuild trust,” the new government spokesman, Olivier Veran, acknowledged as he took over his portfolio, referring to comments made by unhappy voters during June’s election campaign.

Having lost the absolute majority in the lower house of parliament, Macron and his government will need to negotiate support from the opposition bill by bill, for each reform.

Opponents were quick to criticise the limited reshuffle.

“The president of the republic ignores the verdict of the ballot boxes and the demand of the French people for different policies,” the far-right’s Marine Le Pen tweeted.

After being the face of the crisis throughout most of the coronavirus pandemic, Veran, who had moved from health to a different cabinet role in May, will be in charge of presenting government policy.

He won a reputation of calm and poise when defending the government’s COVID policy in parliament and in the media.

CHALLENGES

His challenges will start as early as this week with a draft cost-of-living bill set to be adopted by the government and make its way to parliament, and a policy speech by Elisabeth Borne, who kept her role as prime minister.

Bourne could call a confidence vote after the speech. The left-wing opposition has said it will call a no-confidence vote if she does not.
Macron has not announced any coalition pact with other parties to build a workable majority in parliament nor poached any major names from the opposition in this latest reshuffle.

“There are obviously few volunteers to climb aboard the Titanic,” said Manuel Bompard, a lawmaker from the hard-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed).

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Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was also among the senior cabinet members staying in their jobs.

New appointments include Laurence Boone, the OECD’s deputy secretary general and chief economist, who will replace Clement Beaune as minister for European affairs, while Beaune becomes the new transport minister.

Damien Abad, the minister for solidarity and for the disabled, who is under investigation on suspicion of attempted rape and was targeted by other accusations of sexual misconduct, also lost his job.

Abad has denied any wrongdoing. In angry comments on Monday against those who have accused him, he said he was leaving his job “with a lot of regrets” but that it was for the best, so he could defend himself without it harming the government.





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