French president reshuffles Cabinet to include key ally after resignations | News | DW | 16.10.2018
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French president reshuffles Cabinet to include key ally after resignations

After some ministerial resignations, French President Emmanuel Macron has new names to join his prime minister in the Cabinet. The political balance of the group remains pretty much as it was.

As reflects his style and status atop a government with a comfortable parliamentary majority and a further three years to go in his first presidential term, President Emmanuel Macron took his time before the five new ministers in his Cabinet were announced. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented the list on Tuesday.

The reshuffle was triggered by the resignation of veteran politician and Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who quit earlier in October, saying he wanted to return to Lyon to stand in mayoral elections.

The key roles of finance minister and foreign minister — and the key policies — remain unchanged in Macron's government.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will continue his push for eurozone reform.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian retained his post and continued on his planned schedule with a meeting with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, on Tuesday, ahead of the European Council meeting later in the week. The two men also planned to attend their teams' UEFA Nations League game at the Stade de France in the evening.

Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Quai d'Orsay in March

Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Quai d'Orsay in March

The key post

The head of the president's party, the Republic on the Move (LREM), Christophe Castaner (pictured at top of article) has been named to the key role of interior minister.

The 52-year-old lawyer moved across from former President Hollande's Socialist Party to become Macron's campaign spokesman in 2017. He said he would resign as party head to take up his new ministry.

Together with his party colleague, Macron named Laurent Nunez, the former head of France's DGSI intelligence unit, to be Castaner's deputy. The 54-year-old Nunez will coordinate police, gendarmerie and intelligence services.

President Macron at the Elysee Palace during Heritage Day in September

President Macron at the Elysee Palace during Heritage Day in September

Not household names

The 59-year-old Didier Guillaume, a former socialist, was named agriculture minister, and in the culture portfolio, audiovisual specialist and former center-right Republicains party member Franck Riester replaced publisher Francoise Nyssen. Her position had been undermined by reported irregularities connected to her company, Actes Sud.

Pro-European, moderate MoDem party member Jacqueline Gourault has been named the new minister for relations with local government. She takes over as budget cuts have caused deep discontent among rural mayors throughout France.

Macron had insisted ahead of the reshuffle that he would not be pushed into making a hasty announcement.

There had been media pressure over the summer following the activities of a former bodyguard in June, some off-the-cuff comments he made during walkabouts, a decline in popularity according to polls, and some less than cheery economic news.

But Macron has a substantial majority of 351 seats in the 577-place National Assembly and the 40-year-old does not face re-election until 2022.

Environment and sports

Without telling his bosses beforehand, Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot had announced his resignation live on the radio at the end of August.

A well-known journalist and environmental activist, who had refused to join several past Cabinets before agreeing to a job under Macron, Hulot said he felt "all alone" on environmental issues within the government. He was replaced a week later by longtime politician and environmentalist Francois de Rugy, who had been parliamentary president as a member of Macron's LREM since 2017.

Former Olympics fencing champion Laura Flessel quit as sports minister shortly after Hulot, citing personal reasons. She was replaced by the Romanian-born, French former pro swimmer Roxana Maracineanu in September.

jm/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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