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Emmanuel Macron: France’s President Appoints New PM Amid COVID Pandemic

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron is a French politician who has been President of France and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra since 14 May 2017.

President Emmanuel Macron reshaped his cabinet and shuffled prime ministers on Friday, removing the most popular member of his government and a potential rival in a bid to get a fresh start in the wake of a coronavirus outbreak that has hit France hard.

Why Macron picked unknown Edouard Philippe as the right fit for Prime Minister in 2017

First and foremost Macron’s decision to appoint right-wing MP Edouard Philippe was motivated by his desire and need to show he is a real centrist who can unite elements of the left and right and overcome the old party divides.

And this isn’t just for the sake of it, but with June’s crucial parliamentary elections in mind, in which Macron needed a majority to enable him to put in place his reforms.

While Macron had found it fairly easy to win backing among his old Socialist party colleagues, or at least those in the centre of the party, he had struggled to win over figures in the centre of Les Republicans party, who have so far remained loyal to their political group.

At 46, Philippe was just seven years older than Macron and so would help the new president fulfill his promise to rejuvenate French politics.

Philippe has been mayor of Le Havre since 2010 and an MP for the area since 2012 but lacks experience and clout at a national level. But Macron himself has shown how an outsider can quickly become a recognizable face.

Why Macron is changing his team

Emmanuel Macron came to power three years ago but now faces an economic crisis after the coronavirus pandemic.

A reshuffle has been expected for some time, however, and it is common practice for a French president to replace a prime minister during the five-year term in office known as the “quinquennat”.

Mr. Philippe’s future as prime minister had been in doubt for several weeks and he will now take up the post of mayor in Le Havre, after winning the local vote on Sunday.

“For three years he’s been by my side… we’ve carried out important, historic reform often in very difficult circumstances. We have a relationship of trust that’s in a way unique in terms of the French Republic,” the president said of Mr. Philippe.

A court has launched an inquiry into the French government’s handling of the coronavirus response.

The investigation focuses on three senior figures, including outgoing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, following complaints from unions and doctors.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Philippe resigned amid a cabinet reshuffle.

The government has faced criticism over shortages of medical equipment during the pandemic.

Hours after Mr Philippe’s resignation, it was announced that the Law Court of the Republic, which deals with claims of ministerial misconduct, would open an inquiry into the way his government handled the pandemic.

Along with the outgoing prime minister, those under investigation include Agnès Buzyn, who stepped down as health minister in February, and her successor Olivier Véran, senior public prosecutor François Molin said.

France has reported 202,673 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 29,875 deaths.

Who is the new prime minister?

Jean Castex, 55 is a French politician who has been serving as Prime Minister of France since 3 July 2020. Prior to his appointment, he was a high-ranking civil servant tasked with coordinating the easing of France’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Who is Jean Castex, France's new Prime Minister? - The Week

He is little known in France, but he is a senior civil servant and has played a key role in the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He received the nickname “Mr. Déconfinement” after Mr. Philippe chose the Republican party mayor from Prades in the Pyrenees to co-ordinate France’s strategy of lifting the lockdown.

He attended the same elite university as Mr Macron and Mr Philippe and, like Mr Philippe, was previously a member of the right-wing Republicans party.

On Friday evening, Mr Castex warned in a speech that “the health crisis is, unfortunately, not over” and that “the economic and social crisis is already here”.

Also Read : News Highlights From July 2020

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