Paris (AP) - French President Emmanuel Macron is seeking a change of policy and is replacing his prime minister. Édouard Philippe will quit after around three years and will not lead the new government, Macron officials said on Friday.
The head of state wanted to appoint a new prime minister later in the day. So far, who this will be, is open.
Previously, the center government under Philippe completely resigned. This came as no surprise, since Macron wants to realign its policies and therefore work with a different government team. Ministers are also expected to be exchanged.
“Ecological reconstruction” is now one of Macron's key words. The 42-year-old also emphasized in interviews with regional newspapers: "I believe that the course I took in 2017 is still the right one." In the future, however, he wanted to focus even more on dialogue.
Philippe had led the central government since May 2017. The politician, originally from the civil rights camp, had won the municipal election in the northern French port city of Le Havre at the end of June - there he had been mayor.
Macron had come under considerable pressure after the final round of the local elections at the end of June because, with a few exceptions, his center camp could not prevail in large cities. Instead, there was a “green wave” - Greens and their allies conquered large cities like Lyon, Strasbourg or Bordeaux. In the southwestern French city of Perpignan, a candidate from the far right party Rassemblement National (RN - formerly Front National) prevailed.
The political future of Philip was speculated for months. There had been tensions at the head of the state during the severe corona crisis. So Macron pushed the pace while loosening the strict exit restrictions, while Philippe braked.
In popularity surveys, the giant politician does much better than Macron. In the Corona crisis, which hit France hard with around 30,000 deaths, Philippe had clearly grown in stature as a calm-looking crisis manager.
Philippe owes his rise to the social-liberal Macron. This made the former confidante of the conservative politician Alain Juppé head of government a good three years ago. This was also a clear political sign: Macron wanted to signal to the moderate right that he was approaching them and wanted to involve them.
Like Macron, Philippe is a graduate of the elite university ENA - this is France's cadre smithy for top posts in the public service. Philippe graduated from high school in Bonn, where his father directed the French school abroad. In his youth, Philippe first worked for the socialists before turning to the bourgeois camp.
Prime Ministers are in a difficult position in France, as the President is usually in the spotlight and sets the broad lines. The head of state represents France at EU summits or other top international meetings. The then conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who ruled from 2007 to 2012, once condescendingly described his Prime Minister François Fillon as his “employee”.
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