France to unveil new government on Friday afternoon

The long-awaited new French government will be unveiled on Friday afternoon, the president's office has confirmed, four days after the announcement of Elisabeth Borne as the new Prime Minister.

France to unveil new government on Friday afternoon
France's new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will announce the new government on Friday afternoon. Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

After winning a second term as president on April 24th Emmanuel Macron was widely expected to announce a reshuffle of his government and a new PM.

However the announcement of Elisabeth Borne in the PM role – only the second female prime minister in France’s history – did not come until Monday, May 16th.

Technically it is up to the PM to form the government, although in practice the president is usually heavily involved.

READ ALSO What does a French prime minister actually do?

Speaking while on her first prime ministerial trip on Thursday, Borne said she and President Macron needed to “take their time to ensure the best team”.

Now the Elysée has said that the announcement will come on “Friday afternoon”.

There has been much speculation on who will be in the government, as Borne has the option of changing the roles of existing ministers and bringing in outsiders who are specialists or well-known in particular areas.

The first engagement of the new government will be a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Monday.

The most pressing task will be to win a majority for Macron’s LREM party in June’s parliamentary elections, which will allow the president to press on with the programme he has planned for his second term – including an ambitious restructuring of the country’s pension system.

READ ALSO French parliamentary elections – when do they happen and why are they important?

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Macron rules out ‘national unity government’ for France

French president Emmanuel Macron has promised a new style of government based on 'listening and respect' - but did not announce an alliance with any other parties that would give him a majority in parliament.

Macron rules out 'national unity government' for France

Macron has been holding meetings with all other party leaders in an attempt to break the deadlock in parliament after his group lost its majority in Sunday’s elections, but in a live TV address to the nation he did not announce an alliance.

Instead he said that a new style of government was called for, saying: “The responsibility of the presidential majority is therefore to expand, either by building a coalition contract or by building majorities text by text.”

He rejected the idea of forming a “government of national unity” with all parties, saying that the present situation does not justify it.

READ ALSO Can Macron dissolve the French parliament?

But he said that opposition groups have signalled that: “They are available to advance on major topics” such as the cost of living, jobs, energy, climate and health.”

He said: “We must learn how to govern differently, by dialogue, respect, and listening

“This must mean making agreements, through dialogue, respect, and hard work. The country has made its desire for change clear.”  

Speaking for just eight minutes in the gardens of the Elysée, Macron added: “I cannot ignore the fractures and strong divisions that traverse our country.”   

He said urgent draft laws, especially to alleviate the impact of inflation and rising energy prices, would be submitted to parliament over the summer.

Macron called on the opposition parties to “clarify in all transparency, in the coming days, how far they are willing to go” in their support of such measures, which he said would not be financed by higher taxes.

He added that he himself had been re-elected in April on a platform of “ambitious reform” which he expected to carry out.

The parliamentary impasse should not lead to “stagnation”, Macron said, but to “dialogue and the willingness to listen to each other”.

Macron’s centrist group Ensemble (Together) ended Sunday’s elections as the largest group in parliament – but with 245 seats they are 44 short of an absolute majority.

The leftist coalition Nupes – an electoral alliance of the hard-left La France Insoumise, the centre-left Parti Socialiste, the Greens and the Communists – got a total of 131.

Meanwhile Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National got 89 seats and the centre-right Les Républicains got 61 seats. 

With deadlock in parliament, Macron has been holding meetings over the last two days with the party leaders in the attempt to create an alliance that will allow him to pass legislation over the next five years.

Reacting to Macron’s speech, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the leftist alliance which is the second largest group in parliament, said: “He was elected because most French people did not want the extreme right – the French people have rejected the president’s proposals.

“Nothing can change the choice of the French people.”

Macron’s position as president is not directly threatened by the lack of a majority, but it will mean that passing any legislation – which must be agreed by parliament – will be very difficult.

While negotiations between all parties will continue, Macron himself heads to Brussels on Thursday for an EU summit.