Macron’s Shuffle Points to Parliamentary Problems Ahead

·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron shuffled his cabinet after losing his outright majority in parliament last month but made few changes, in a sign that he’s failed to convince major opposition figures to join his coalition.

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The 44-year-old centrist is keeping Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna in their posts.

Laurence Boone replaces Clement Beaune as delegate minister for Europe. Boone was the OECD’s chief economist. Before that, she was an economic adviser to former Socialist President Francois Hollande during the euro area debt crisis and has worked as an economist at several financial institutions in both Paris and London.

Macron decided to keep Elisabeth Borne, his 61-year-old former labor, ecology and transport minister, as premier. While she’s been criticized by some in his own party for being a technocrat who lacks political clout, she’s been loyal to Macron.

France’s political life has been effectively paralyzed since Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen in April’s presidential election. It took him weeks to pick a prime minister and a government, which he was forced to shuffle after disappointing results in last month’s legislative elections.

Here are the other key takeaways:

  • Beaune, who represents the left-leaning wing of Macron’s party, becomes junior minister for transport, just as train, airport and aircraft workers consider strike action to demand wage hikes in line with inflation

  • Christophe Bechu, an ally of former premier Edouard Philippe, was promoted to ecology minister, while emergency room doctor Francois Braun becomes health minister. They replace ministers who failed to be elected as lawmakers in June

  • Right-leaning Franck Riester will handle relations with parliament, suggesting that Macron is likely lean on his allies and the right to govern

  • Macron chose not to reappoint Damien Abad as minister of solidarity, after French prosecutors began investigating him over an allegation of attempted rape

  • France’s energy regulator Jean-Francois Carenco was appointed junior minister in charge of overseas territories. This means he needs to be replaced amid energy market turmoil and as France seeks to push for new regulation of Electricite de France SA’s nuclear plants.

  • Darmanin adds overseas territories to his portfolio

Macron gave Borne less than two weeks to come up with what he called a “government of action” and to sound out other parties for areas of agreement. But during meetings with rival party representatives, she didn’t offer any concrete concessions, according to attendees. Macron himself had ruled out working with the far-right and the far-left parties, Le Pen’s National Rally and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Unbowed, from the start.

Without a coalition government, Macron, who is known for his top-down and centralized approach, will now be forced to strike ad-hoc alliances with dozens of lawmakers to be sure to have a majority to push through his pro-business reforms, such as raising the retirement age.

Borne is set to make a speech to parliament about her policy plans on Wednesday.

The cabinet is slated to introduce a draft bill to support purchasing power this week, which will debated by the National Assembly from July 18, in a test for Macron’s ability to pass legislation. Some of the measures, like a one-off check for poorer households, should have broad support.

(Updates with details from third paragraph.)

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