Leaten last months before embarking on a marathon of summits in four countries, Emmanuel Macron pledged to form a coalition government that would stretch from left-wing Communists to right-wing Republicans. After losing his parliamentary majority in June’s general election, the centrist French president hoped it could secure broad support from the church. But on July 4, after the main left and right opposition parties rejected his advances, Mr Macron shelved the plan. Instead, he unveiled a revamped government made up largely of fellow centrists, who will rule with only the support of a minority in parliament.
Many of those in high-level positions remain, including Elisabeth Borne, the prime minister, Bruno Le Maire in finance and Catherine Colonna, the foreign minister. Among the rare foreign political recruits is a former communist, Olivier Klein, mayor of Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, appointed Minister for Cities. Some loyal parliamentarians were rewarded, including Roland Lescure, who became Minister of Industry. Given the prospect of greater parliamentarism in France, however, it was not the heavyweight multi-party government that some had hoped to see.
Besides centrist friends, Mr. Macron has turned to experts outside politics. Laurence Boone, Chief Economist at oecd, succeeds the post of Minister for Europe to Clément Beaune, who becomes Minister of Transport. The new Minister of Health is François Braun, doctor and head of Samu, the Ambulance and Emergency Services Agency. Jean-Christophe Combe, patron of the French Red Cross, has been appointed “solidarity” minister.
The big question now is whether Mr Macron’s second term can begin to match the ambition of his first. In 2017, supported by a solid parliamentary majority, the young president had clear projects: to shake up France, make it more competitive and create jobs, and open up opportunities for the benefit of all. Since his re-election in April, however, there has been a sense of drift. Some close to Mr. Macron say he is tired. Others think he waited to test the political balance of power before deciding what is doable. Either way, it’s unclear if the president can reignite that reformist zeal or if his second term will be reduced to little more than shelf management.
On July 6, Ms Borne sounded confident as she outlined her plans, promising to raise the retirement age, achieve full employment and fully nationalize EDF, an energy giant. After having decided not to follow the tradition and to submit this to a vote of confidence, the alliance of the radical left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, nudes, filed a motion of no confidence instead. His attempt to overthrow the government is likely to fail. But it reflects the hostile mood. nudeswho holds 151 seats to Mr Macron’s 250, insists the president “lost” the election and should implement his policy, not his.
Even if Mr Macron tries to get out of trouble, to help mitigate the soaring cost of living, that will never be enough on the left. And the president has promised not to raise taxes or the debt. Already, Mr Le Maire has warned that debt service charges are rising, as spreads on French borrowing widen. Moreover, the country’s nuclear power plants are struggling to sustain themselves just as energy prices are rising. French public opinion, unlike that of Germany, was far from prepared for the future need to control energy consumption. In short, France, like Mr. Macron, is heading for a turbulent few months.■