Edouard Philippe qui l'Elysée (in this archive photo). - Jacques Witt / SIPA
- Five days after the slap received in the municipal elections, Emmanuel Macron decided to separate from his Prime Minister, pending movements in different ministries.
- Edouard Philippe is replaced in Matignon by Jean Castex, "the man of deconfinement".
- 20 Minutes asked historian Jean Garrigues about this choice, and more broadly about the effect that a reshuffle can have (or not).
A reshuffle, but for what? Five days after the slap received in the municipal elections, Emmanuel Macron decided to separate from his Prime Minister. Edouard Philippe will therefore leave his post at Matignon this Friday after more than three years in office. The Head of State appointed the high official Jean Castex, "man of the deconfinement", to succeed him.
The new government will be revealed to him before the Council of Ministers, scheduled for next Wednesday. "A new stage opens with new talents and new methods of government," said the Elysee. But does the reshuffle, a regular practice of the Fifth Republic, still have a political interest? We talk about it with the historian Jean Garrigues.
Jean Castex is appointed in place of Edouard Philippe. How do you analyze this choice?
It is rather an expert Prime Minister, who succeeded in deconfinement, but with a more erased image than his predecessor. He is a more technical and less political head of government than Edouard Philippe. A kind of Raymond Barre. Because even if Jean Castex comes from the right, one cannot say that he is one of the rising leaders of the right as was Edouard Philippe, very close to Alain Juppe and mayor of Le Havre.
He is a former secretary general of the Elysee Palace of Nicolas Sarkozy, so it reinforces this idea of subordination, this image of collaborating Prime Minister, of servant. Jean Castex does not risk overshadowing the President of the Republic. I believe that Emmanuel Macron wishes to take back the keys in hand and the light in the perspective of 2022.
With the change of Prime Minister, should we expect a major reshuffle?
With the resignation of Edouard Philippe, it is no longer a reshuffle in reality, but a change of government. A reshuffle can mark an inflection. But it is above all a question of filling one or more departures, following errors committed, legal troubles - as at the beginning of the quinquennium with the departures of the ministers of the MoDem -, or to fill resignations like that of Nicolas Hulot.
A change of government must more mark a political inflection. It happens regularly after an electoral failure, as in 2014, after the defeat of François Hollande in the municipal elections. Manuel Valls had replaced Jean-Marc Ayrault. Today, it's a little different, because Edouard Philippe was not really the leader of the majority, since he was not himself a member of La République en Marche. But insofar as Emmanuel Macron announced a new path, the question of incarnation was raised.
Is a change of government necessarily accompanied by a change of political line?
This is often the case. When Manuel Valls enters Matignon, it is also to initiate a new policy, more geared towards social-liberalism. His profile matched the more liberal image that François Hollande wanted. When Chirac takes Dominique de Villepin, it is to embody a form of voluntary and social revival of the quinquennium.
In light of Emmanuel Macron's declarations in recent weeks, an absence of political rupture would sign a kind of denial. Everything is in balance between the symbol of rupture and the need for continuity. The resumption of the pension reform will be instructive in this regard. Will the same project be put back on the table, or will the social aspect be put forward more?
Can a reshuffle mark opinion?
I think people are not fooled. There may be a small rebound effect in opinion, we saw it in 2014, but it did not last. Valls had quickly been contaminated by the very low popularity of François Hollande. Today, the French have a form of maturity vis-à-vis politics, disenchantment. What they expect are results, mainly on the economy and unemployment.
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