The change is (again) now. Less than a month and a half after the announcement of a first government, the team set up on May 20 must already be reshuffled.
While at the time, Emmanuel Macron had been slow to formalize the appointment of his Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, and to unveil the list of twenty-three ministers and four secretaries of state, the President of the Republic must review the casting . A subject that was at the heart of the exchanges between the two heads of the executive, Friday, July 1, so that Ms. Borne would report on her exchanges with the leaders of the opposition in recent days, and present to the leader of the State proposals on “the composition of a new government of action”. Even if it means giving the impression of being bogged down in human resources questions, while hot issues (inflation, Covid-19, hospitals) are multiplying?
“It is urgent to act”, recognized the tenant of the Elysée, on June 30, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid. “It is normal that the action takes into account the choices of our compatriots and that it is done in good order,” he continued. Understand: the executive must take into account the disappointment recorded in the legislative elections and the new balances in the National Assembly, where the Prime Minister, under pressure, must deliver her general policy statement on Wednesday July 6.
Before this highly anticipated speech, the reshuffle should take place “in all coherence” on Monday or Tuesday, according to government spokeswoman Olivia Grégoire. The announcement could come as early as Monday morning, according to a source at the top of the state. “It will be in the next few hours,” said the leader of the Macronist deputies, Aurore Bergé, Sunday morning, on RTL. This reshuffle aims first of all to replace the three ministers who bowed to the legislative elections: Amélie de Montchalin for ecological transition and territorial cohesion, Brigitte Bourguignon for health, and Justine Benin, Secretary of State for the sea. All must leave office, in accordance with the rule that a member of the government defeated in the legislative elections cannot remain in office. To these is added the Minister of Overseas, Yaël Braun-Pivet, elected to the presidency of the National Assembly, Tuesday, June 28.
Parity, “a big subject”
In addition to these “mandatory” changes, a dozen deputy ministers and secretaries of state must be appointed to fill portfolios not filled during the first wave. This concerns in particular housing, transport, biodiversity or rurality… With reinforcements expected in particular at Bercy for digital, industrial sovereignty or tourism. From twenty-seven members, the government will therefore move to a much larger workforce. With a puzzle: how to respect parity, when the four departing ministers are women? A challenge considered “a big subject to manage” within the majority. Because in the names circulating to take their place, we essentially find… men.
For the Ministry of Health, the profile cited most insistently remains that of Frédéric Valletoux, mayor of Fontainebleau, who has chaired the Fédération hospitalière de France (FHF) since 2011. Elected deputy for Seine-et-Marne in the legislative elections under the colors of Horizons, the party of Edouard Philippe, Mr. Valletoux is “clearly” the favorite, according to a Macronist official, to take over from Brigitte Bourguignon in this sector, which is part of the “emergencies” of the government, to the eve of a dreaded summer in hospitals due to lack of staff.
Other names are also mentioned, such as those of the deputy Les Républicains (LR) of Hauts-de-Seine Philippe Juvin and the president (LR) of the Grand-Est region, Jean Rottner. Or that of the mayor (Horizons) of Reims (Marne), Arnaud Robinet. If he says he is “fully mobilized” in the service of his city and in his mandate as vice-president of the Grand-Est region, the latter would not say no. “Public health issues, given my professional background and my responsibilities within the FHF, have always fascinated me and I consider that there is a lot to be done in this area,” says Mr. Robinet.
Yannick Jadot, a potential “big catch”
At the ecological transition, two scenarios are mentioned: either entrusting the current Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher with the portfolio of her resigning colleague, which would see her combine the energy and ecological transition. Either convince a figure in the fight against global warming to join the government.
The macronists dream of succeeding in attracting the environmental candidate for the presidential election, Yannick Jadot, considered as a potential “big catch”, likely to give credibility to the ambition of the head of state in this area. The desire to seduce the MEP does not date from today: since the departure of Nicolas Hulot from the government in September 2018, the strategists of the majority have cited his name at each reshuffle. In vain.
Except that today, the context is considered more favorable by the presidential camp, which considers Mr. Jadot in the process of being marginalized in his own party, since the rapprochement of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) with La France insoumise ( LFI) within the framework of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union. “Does he want to sit on the sidelines for five years?” This is the question he must ask himself,” pretends to wonder a Macronist official, stressing that Mr. Jadot is “not so far” from the majority on the subjects of Europe, the secularism or the market economy.
His recent remarks, when he said “not to close the door to anything”, in response to a possible participation in a coalition government, were noticed by the supporters of the head of state. Those around him believe that the calls from the foot of the macronists are “nothing new”, stressing that “the novelty” would be that the government “do more things for ecology”.
Another puzzle to be decided: the maintenance – or not – of Damien Abad as Minister of Solidarity, while the Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation for attempted rape after the complaint of a woman targeting him for facts which would have been held in 2010.
If Elisabeth Borne wishes to take advantage of the reshuffle to separate from the one she privately considers “a burden”, it remains to be seen whether Mr. Macron will be on the same line, he who has always refused to dismiss a member of the government. implicated but not convicted in court. Targeted by three complaints, including two for rape, the Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, could also bear the brunt of the casting change.
“We have zero targets to take on the right”
The executive will also have to take care of the political balance, in order to serve its two allies of the MoDem and Horizons, who consider themselves for the moment under-represented in the government. The centrist party and that of Mr. Philippe having, for the moment, only one representative in the government, new profiles from their ranks should be promoted.
While François Bayrou has multiplied the criticisms against the government in recent days, in order to show his power of nuisance and his desire to be better treated, the names of several elected MoDem – like the ex-secretary of State Sarah El Haïry or the deputy of Yvelines Jean-Noël Barrot – circulate to enter the government. Likewise on the Horizons side, with in particular those of Mr. Valletoux and Mr. Robinet.
While Mr. Macron has ruled out the possibility of forging an agreement with the National Rally and LFI, it remains to be seen whether “open” personalities will enter the government, in exchange for the support of their troops in the National Assembly to allow the presidential camp to reach an absolute majority. In his interview with Agence France-Presse on June 25, the head of state had mentioned a new government that could include allies “who would commit to the long term alongside the presidential majority”.
If the macronists hoped for an agreement with LR, they have finally been disillusioned since the remarks of their group president in the National Assembly, Olivier Marleix, excluding any coalition. “We have zero targets to take on the right. It doesn’t work anymore,” laments a Majority official. But the executive does not despair of attracting new talent. The names of elected LR Catherine Vautrin or Christelle Morançais are cited as possible entrants. “The message of the French is ‘all work together’, so we must all come to the common table”, underlines the Elysée.
With the desire that the new team be complete at the Council of Ministers which is to take place next week, so that the five-year term resumes its march forward, with the planned examination of the texts on purchasing power and the health context. in July, in order to cope with inflation and the resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemic. And, that finally, Emmanuel Macron can put an end to the impression of hesitation and stagnation that has remained since his re-election.