France: Macron appointed his protégé Attal as new Prime Minister

President Emmanuel Macron has appointed his protégé, Gabriel Attal, as Prime Minister of France. The 34-year-old Attal became the youngest prime minister in the history of the Fifth Republic.

He is to announce the composition of the new cabinet in the coming days. Macron’s inner circle is talking about the intention to prepare Attal for the 2027 presidential election, when Macron himself will no longer be able to run.

French Education Minister Gabriel Attal was appointed Prime Minister on January 9, replacing Élisabeth Borne, who resigned a day before.

Gabriel Attal’s rapid career in Macron’s team

After starting his career in politics with the Socialist Party, Attal joined Macron’s team before the 2017 elections. He has produced a rapid career. President Macron appointed him to key positions, from government spokesman to budget minister to education minister.

Attal proved to be an extremely flexible politician who was able to maintain ties with the socialist wing of political forces and, at the same time, gain popularity among the right party, the Republicans. Macron’s similar centrist strategy helped him make a quick rise in French politics in 2017 and become president.

A rising star in French politics, Attal takes over after a difficult year for Macron, marked by contentious battles over pensions and immigration that tested the president’s ability to push through reforms. At the same time, the far-right National Rally achieved an increase in support among French voters.

Attal can be considered as candidate for 2027 presidential election

The appointment of Attal as prime minister could be the first step toward his promotion to Macron’s protégé in the 2027 elections, when the president himself will no longer be able to run. The bet on a young and ambitious protégé is Macron’s response to Marine Le Pen, who has also prepared a successor for herself, the charismatic 28-year-old Jordan Bardella.

The far-right leader Marine Le Pen herself has not yet abandoned her ambitions for the presidency, and she obviously needs Jordan Bardella to attract younger voters. If she wins, she can appoint him to the prime minister’s chair.

Another important political battlefield between Macron’s party and the National Rally is the European Parliament elections in June 2024. According to the latest polls, the far right is approaching the 30% support level in France, while the presidential party “En Marche” has lost almost 4% over the past six months.

Attal supports Macron’s policies: from school to Ukraine

Attal is a committed “macronist” who follows all the president’s policies. He has never publicly spoken out against Macron’s reforms. At the same time, he managed to attract the right-wing electorate when, as Minister of Education, he banned abaya, Muslim clothing for girls, from schools and advocated for the return of school uniforms.

The young politician repeated President Macron’s promise to support Ukraine with weapons “as long as necessary” and repeatedly admired the heroism of Ukrainians in their defense war against the Russian invasion.

In November, during Olena Zelenska’s visit to Paris, Gabriel Attal, then Minister of Education, organized a visit with Brigitte Macron to a school where Ukrainian kids study.

Attal’s rising popularity and Borne’s resignation

According to a recent poll commissioned by Le Figaro, one-third of French people consider Gabriel Attal the most suitable candidate among current French officials for the position of prime minister.

Elizabeth Borne submitted her resignation to the Elysee Palace on Monday, January 8. The entire French government resigned but continued to perform its duties until a new one was appointed.

The French media has regularly mentioned rumors of the French prime minister’s resignation in recent weeks, reflecting public dissatisfaction with Macron’s reforms.

In May 2022, after winning the election for his second term, President Macron appointed Elisabeth Born, 62, as the second woman in France’s history to hold the position of Prime Minister.

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