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Who’s who in France’s new government?

The new French government has been announced in the first major shake-up since Emmanuel Macron was re-elected for a second term as president at the end of April. Here's a guide to the new (and familiar) faces.

Who's who in France's new government?
Elysee Palace General Secretary Alexis Kohler announces appointements for a French government reshuffle at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on May 20, 2022. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Prime Minister – Elisabeth Borne. Borne’s new role was announced on Monday and since then it has been her responsibility to create the new government (doubtless with plenty of input from her boss Emmanuel Macron).

Formerly the labour minister, she has previously served as environment and transport minister under Macron.

The 61-year-old qualified engineer is generally regarded as a steady pair of hands, a technocrat with lengthy experience in government and a record of having pushed through controversial reforms.

France’s newly appointed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Finance minister – Bruno Le Maire. Le Maire remains in his finance role at Bercy. Hailing originally from the centre-right of the political spectrum, Le Maire has been Macron’s economy minister since he first came to power in 2017.

He has been recited with devising much of the detail of the huge financial support package that France put together to support people and businesses through the pandemic, a model that was widely copied across Europe.

A father of four, in his spare time he enjoys writing and had had several books published, including this one in which he rhapsodises about Macron’s blue eyes.

Interior minister – Gérald Darmanin. Darmanin will also remain in his post at the Interior Ministry. Since his appointment in 2020 he has made a name for himself as a hardliner and appeals to people on the right with his tough stances on drugs, immigration and integration.

He has most recently been in the headlines for attacking the decision of local authorities in Grenoble to allow the full-cover swimsuit known as the Burkini in public pools.

His initial appointment as interior minister (the nominal head of the police force) was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape, but charges against him have since been dropped. 

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (Photo by bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Foreign minister – Catherine Colonna. Colonna is currently serving in a diplomatic role, she is the French Ambassador in the UK, but is set to join the government as foreign minister, replacing Jean-Yves Le Drian who has served in the role since 2017.

Colonna has been heavily involved in the Brexit fallout and is widely respected within European circles. She is a career diplomat apart from a brief spell in Jacques Chirac’s government.

Catherine Colonna, France’s new Foreign Minister, in 2015 (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Government spokesperson – Olivia Gregoire. The position of government spokesman is a cabinet role and one with a high profile as the spokesperson is charged with communicating and explaining government decisions in all areas.

Gregoire has been promoted from a junior minister role in the Finance ministry, where she was in charge of social economy.

A mum of one, she is perhaps best known for being vaccinated live on TV by her colleague Olivier Véran while five months pregnant, in a move intended to highlight to pregnant women the importance of getting the Covid vaccine.

Olivia Gregoire, new government spokesperson (Photo by Eric Feferberg / AFP)

Education minister – Pap Ndiaye. He is a historian and former director of the Palais de la Porte Dorée, which is the National Museum of the History of Immigration, as well as the site of the Palais de la Porte-Dorée Aquarium. Ndiaye is also an academic and educator, having graduated from France’s prestigious École Normale Supérieure, during which time he studied for several years in the United States. He is also a specialist of African-American history. When speaking to the New York Times about his role as director of the museum, he spoke about the importance of making “immigration a more essential part of the vision that the French have of their national history.”

Ndiaye will replace Jean-Michel Blanquer, who leaves office with low public support after a series of controversial school reforms. He came under particular fire after taking a holiday trip to Ibiza in mid-January 2022, delivering from his holiday villa the latest Covid protocol for schools.

Pap Ndiaye, France’s new Minister of Education (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

Environment – During his first term Macron was roundly criticised for doing too little about the burning question of the climate emergency. Despite the Green candidate scoring less than 10 percent of the vote in the presidential elections, most French people continue to tell pollsters that the environment is one of their biggest concerns.

This reshuffle sees the environment portfolio expanded with two ministers, while Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also has the environmental transition officially included in her job title. 

Minister of Environmental planning – Amélie de Montchalin. Originally from Lyon, de Montchalin is a fluent English speaker who studied at Harvard. She worked in local government in the district of Essonne, where she also used her financial background to serve as a member of the financial committee. She has been Europe minister and Public Services minister under Macron.

Amelie de Montchalin, France’s new minister for Ecological transition and Territorial Cohesion (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Minister of Energy Transition  – Agnès Pannier-Runacher. A graduate of HEC business school, ENA and Sciences Po, Pannier-Runnacher has a long history working in the financial sector. In 2018, she became a junior finance minister, later going on to become the Minister Delegate in charge of Industry.

Agnes Pannier-Runacher, the new Minister of Energy Transition (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Health minister – Brigitte Bourguignon. Taking over from Olivier Véran in health is Bourguignon, previously a junior ministry in Health.

Unusually for a French health minister she is not a doctor, she began her career as a medical secretary, and then went on to politics, working in local government in the Pas-de-Calais region, originally a member of the Socialist Party and later joining Emmanuel Macron’s LREM. She also served as president of the commission of inquiry into the Covid crisis and its handling.

Brigitte Bourguignon, France’s new Health Minister (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Agriculture minister – Marc Fesneau. With spiralling food prices becoming one of the biggest political issues in France, the role of agriculture minister is set to rise in profile.

Taking over from Macron loyalist Julien Denormandie is Marc Fesneau, previously a junior minister responsible for relations with parliament. 

He has a background in agriculture – before entering politics he worked for a company that advised the agriculture ministry and then for the chamber of agriculture in his local area of Cher-et-Loir.

Marc Fesneau, France’s new Agriculture Minister (Photo by bertrand GUAY / AFP)

Justice minister – Éric Dupond-Moretti. The flamboyant ex lawyer Dupont-Moretti stays in post as justice minister. He has attracted controversy since starting in the role in 2020, although most related to his former work as a high-profile criminal lawyer representing clients including Julian Assange.

As well as a lawyer he’s also an entertainer, and previously toured a one-man show telling anecdotes from his legal career.  

France’s Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Defence minister – Sebastien Lécornu. Aged 36 and previously the Minister of France’s Overseas Territories and involved in local government in Eure, will take on the post of Defence minister. A Macron loyalist, Lécornu is a member of the President’s party (LREM).

France’s new Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Europe minister – Clément Beaune. The outspoken and high-profile Europe minister will keep his job in the new government, although the job title his been slightly tweaked to make him a minister rather than a junior minister, as he was before. 

Widely regarded as being close to Macron, Beaune has carved out a niche for himself within the EU, giving the job a higher profile than it previously had.

France’s European Minister Clement Beaune (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Labour minister –  Olivier Dussopt. The junior budget minister moves to the higher-profile role of labour minister. As well as dealing with workplace issues, the Labour minister is also frequently concerned in the case of a long-running strike, a fairly regular occurence in France.

Olivier Dussopt, France’s new Labour Minister (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Culture minister –  Rima Abdul Malak. Relatively unknown to the general public, she has spent the last two years working to launch and promote the “Culture Pass,” which helps facilitate youth participation in the arts.

The 44-year-old was born and raised in Lebanon, until the age of 10 when she moved to Lyon, France, where she discovered her love for theatre. Malak began her career as the Program Director for Clowns without Borders from 2001 – 2006. Then, she went on to serve as the advisor for performing arts for the Deputy Mayor of Paris for the performing arts, and then as cultural advisor to Bertrand Delanoë, then Mayor of Paris. In 2017, she was appointed the French cultural attaché in New York. 

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Public functions – Stanislas Guerini. The longtime Macron loyalist Guerini will enter the government for the first time as Minister for Public Functions. He previously held a low-profile but important role as executive officer of Macron’s LREM party.

Stanislas Guerini, French minister of Public Functions (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Disabilities – Damien Abad. The newly created role of Minister for Solidarity, autonomy and disabled people will be filled by Abad, 42, the son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Damien Abad, Minister of Solidarity, Autonomy and Persons with Disabilities (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Sports, Olympics and Paralympics minister – Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. The sports minister role has been expanded to include responsibility for the Olympics. Paris is hosting the games in 2024 and responsibility for the organising had previously fallen under Paris City Hall. 

Oudéa-Castéra is currently head of the French tennis federation, but previously worked in finance, banking and for the Carrefour supermarket chain. 

Parliamentary relations – Olivier Véran. Health minister Véran moves to the more technical post of minister in charge of relations between the government and the parliament.

Olivier Veran, former Health Minister, and now minister for parliamentary relations (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Public accounts – Gabriel Attal. The former government spokesman Attal moves to the less high-profile but still important role of Public Accounts minister, one of the junior ministerial roles in the finance ministry.

Former government spokesperson Gabriel Attal, now Public Accounts minister (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)
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Higher education minister – Sylvie Retailleau 

Minister for French overseas territories – Yaël Braun-Pivet

Equalities minister – Isabelle Rome

Minister for Economic attractivess – Franck Riester

Minister for the Seas – Justine Benin

Children’s minister – Charlotte Caubel

Minister for the French language and international partnerships – Chrysoula Zacharopoulou.

Fifteen of the 28 members of the government are MPs and will therefore be standing for re-election in the parliamentary elections in June.

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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.

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