Macron sticks by loyalists in new French government

French president Emmanuel Macron has stuck with loyalists to fill key posts in his new government as he tries to press on with unfinished reforms after winning a second five-year term.

In a team that drew largely on members of his inner circle and his previous cabinet, Macron opted for continuity in retaining both his economy and home affairs ministers.

However Macron, who this week promoted Élisabeth Borne to the post of prime minister, named Catherine Colonna, the ambassador to the UK and formerly to Italy, as his foreign minister as Europe grapples with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Macron, a self-styled centrist, chose Pap Ndiaye, a left-leaning historian specialized in minorities, to head the education ministry. He also won over a prominent leader from the rival Les Républicains party after its disastrous showing in the presidential election. Damien Abad, the former head of the LR parliamentary group, will handle a portfolio dealing with the elderly and people with disabilities.

Catherine Colonna, the ambassador to the UK and formerly to Italy, will take on the role of foreign minister © AFP via Getty Images

The announcement of Macron’s projected government team comes ahead of parliamentary elections next month when his ability to push through reforms such as a pensions overhaul will depend on whether his party retains its majority in the national assembly.

Bruno Le Maire will stay in post as finance minister, dealing with navigating the economic fallout from the Ukraine war and managing France’s high debts as interest rates begin to rise. Macron also kept Gérald Darmanin as interior minister.

In all five appointees in a government of 27 people – 13 women and 14 men – have kept their jobs. Another 12 were already close to Macron or had different jobs with him before.

“Macron said during the campaign that he did not want the second term to be a simple continuation of the first one, but that’s not the signal sent so far,” said Bruno Cautrès, a political scientist at Sciences Po university. “He faces the challenge of how to do something new with personalities who have been around for a while.”

Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate defeated by Macron in April’s presidential election, criticized the continuity in many portfolios. She also criticized Ndiaye’s appointment via Twitter, calling it “the last stone in the deconstruction of our country and its values”.

Pap Ndiaye, a left-leaning historian, will head the education ministry © Mehdi Fedouach / AFP / Getty Images

After picking Borne, a Macron loyalist who has also served as an adviser to Socialist politicians in the past, as prime minister, Macron had been expected to possibly make further gestures to leftwing parties who are seeking gains in the June elections.

Macron is expected to focus more on the environment in his second term, after seeking to woo younger leftwing voters on this basis. Amélie de Montchalin, who has previously held Europe and public service portfolios in the past, was appointed minister for ecological transition while Agnès Pannier-Runacher, previously a junior minister for industry, will lead an energy transition ministry.

Green party politician Julien Bayou said Montchalin was not known for her environmental credentials while Greenpeace France said Macron had failed to attract a credible environmental figure to his government.

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