France witnessed the appointment of its youngest-ever prime minister on Tuesday, marking a historic moment as President Emmanuel Macron aims to rejuvenate the remainder of his term, facing escalating political challenges from the far right.
Gabriel Attal, aged 34, emerged as a prominent figure, initially serving as the government spokesperson and later taking on the role of education minister. Notably, he garnered substantial popularity, being ranked as the most favored minister in the outgoing government.
The departure of his predecessor, Elisabeth Borne, occurred on Monday amid political upheaval surrounding an immigration law designed to enhance the government’s capacity to expel foreign individuals. This move comes as President Macron navigates a path to recalibrate and respond to evolving political dynamics.
In the days ahead, President Macron will collaborate with Gabriel Attal to form a new government. While the specifics are yet to be finalized, indications suggest that certain key ministers may retain their positions in the upcoming administration.
In a message to Gabriel Attal, President Macron expressed confidence in Attal’s energy and commitment, urging him to revive the spirit of 2017 when Macron secured a surprising victory as France’s youngest-ever president. Macron highlighted Attal’s role as a symbol of boldness, movement, and confidence in young people. At the handover ceremony, Attal emphasized his goals, including making security a top priority, promoting values of authority and respect, strengthening public services, and advocating for better immigration control.
Attal’s appointment as the youngest prime minister in history stirred both criticism and support. Critics questioned his limited experience, Parisian background, and loyalty to the president. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen dismissed expectations from the new government, while conservative party leader Eric Ciotti called for a different approach. Jean-Luc Mélenchon mocked Attal’s return to the role of spokesman, portraying the prime minister’s function as diminishing, with the president as the ruling figure.
Under the French political system, the prime minister, appointed by the president, oversees domestic policy implementation, while the president holds substantial powers in foreign policy and European affairs. Attal, previously a member of the Socialist Party, joined Macron’s movement in 2016 and served as spokesperson before becoming education minister in July. Notable initiatives under his tenure include a ban on long robes in classrooms and experiments with school uniforms to reduce bullying.
Attal inherits challenges, including a parliament where Macron’s centrists lost their majority, necessitating political maneuvering to pass laws. The recent immigration bill faced tough negotiations and parliamentary debates, questioning the government’s legislative effectiveness. Attal’s predecessor, Elisabeth Borne, left office proud of accomplishments such as pension reform and the immigration law but faced protests and riots during her term.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, a proponent of the immigration bill, expressed readiness to continue leading the country’s police forces, especially with the Paris Olympics approaching and significant security issues at stake. The new government’s ability to navigate these challenges will shape the trajectory of Macron’s presidency in the coming years.