SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

Elisabeth Borne, who is taking the reins of President Emmanuel Macron's government as the first female prime minister in over 30 years, is an experienced technocrat who enjoys the full confidence of the French leader.

Who is Élisabeth Borne, France's new PM?
France's newly appointed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne (Photo by CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP)

The 61-year-old engineer proved her loyalty to Macron during his first term, serving as transport, environment and finally labour minister from 2020.

Borne is known for handling controversial transport and benefits reforms, which will be seen as a mighty advantage as Macron seeks to push through a highly-contested bid to raise France’s retirement age during his second mandate.

Borne will seek to make a greater impact than France’s first female prime minister Edith Cresson, who lasted less than a year in the early 1990s.

Macron had indicated he wanted a woman with left-wing and environmental credentials, and Borne ticked many boxes.

The president promised before the runoff vote in presidential elections in April to put the climate crisis at the heart of his second term and to task his prime minister with “ecological planning”.

As labour minister during the Covid-19 pandemic, Borne backed a range of measures to boost employment of the younger generation.

Borne, who is said to discreetly vape at the National Assembly parliament, was regularly on television at the height of the pandemic to remind the French to work from home and to defend the government’s job retention scheme.

Hospitalised due to the virus in March 2021, she was administered oxygen, an experience she described as nerve-wracking.

‘A real technocrat’

Far from being an extrovert figure who could overshadow the president in any way, she is a safe pair of hands who Macron can trust at a delicate time.

“She’s a real technocrat,” said a union source who asked not to be named.

And in the corridors of the ministries where she served, it is said she was nicknamed “Borne out” for her supposed harshness towards her collaborators, a play on words with “burn out”.

France’s second-ever female prime minister was born in Paris and studied at the elite Ecole Polytechnique.

According to an April survey by the Ifop pollster, 45 percent of people polled did not know who she was.

Little is known about her private life, apart from that she was born to a father who died when she was young and to a mother with very little income.

A lover of maths, Borne has said she finds in numbers “something quite reassuring, quite rational”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

SHOW COMMENTS