"The method will be that of consultation and dialogue" to seek "the widest majorities". It was not Elisabeth Borne who uttered these words but the socialist Edith Cresson, appointed "Prime Minister" on 15 May 1991.

Because the two women are facing the same difficulty: the absence of an absolute majority in the National Assembly, even if Mrs Cresson was only missing a few deputies, instead of forty for Mrs Borne.

To pass texts, they must convince beyond their camp or, failing that, use 49.3, which allows the adoption of projects without a vote but exposes them to censorship.

Edith Cresson used this constitutional weapon 8 times, Elisabeth Borne 11 times, including to pass the highly contested pension reform, stirring up protest in the street and weakening it in Matignon.

On Monday, her lease on rue de Varenne will have reached that of Edith Cresson: 10 months and 18 days. A deadline closely watched by the Elysee: considering a replacement before this term would have been "dramatic in the memory that it would leave," notes an adviser.


Unlike Edith Cresson, attacked in her management including by the "elephants" of the PS against a background of "machismo", Elisabeth Borne did not displease her majority.

"Some said +she (Elisabeth Borne) is going to be cressonized+. Well not at all, there are zero questions about its dimension to manage the function. She is doing the best, "greeted in early February a close to Emmanuel Macron.

Governments: longevity and use of 49.3 © Sabrina BLANCHARD / AFP

After 49.3, the former head of government Edouard Philippe, sometimes critical, even comforted her: "I know what it's like to be Prime Minister, another can say it too. It's not easy, I'm in awe."

If Elisabeth Borne were to leave Matignon, "she will have to be judged on her political action and not on her sex," insists a member of the majority. And "nothing prevents the president from appointing a woman after a woman. Her first choice (LR Catherine Vautrin, editor's note) was also a woman."

"The question is: the president has asked for a new agenda (to expand the majority, editor's note). Will she be able to endorse it?" adds this source from the presidential camp.

Socialist Senator Laurence Rossignol believes that "we have made a lot of progress" since Edith Cresson, because "as Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne can be criticised, but she is respected as a woman".

In this case, she was not compared to her arrival at the Marquise de Pompadour like Edith Cresson, whose appointment by François Mitterrand, to replace Michel Rocard, had been seen even in the PS as the fact of the prince.

The current Prime Minister still finds it "super sexist" that some accuse her of not "eating steaks while drinking beer".


When Elisabeth Borne received Edith Cresson at Matignon on November 8, the two women felt that "things have not evolved enough" on equality, and that a woman at Matignon "should no longer be a source of surprise".

In thirty years, the government has become parity but only 5 women out of 21 are full ministers.

The fiery Edith Cresson multiplied the missteps and imprudent remarks. "The stock market, I don't care," she said, comparing her ministers to "woodlice".

When François Mitterrand parted ways on April 2, 1992 to appoint Pierre Bérégovoy, a former economy minister respected by the markets and the opposition, "it was positive for the president," Jean Garrigues, author of "Elysée contre Matignon" (Tallandier, 2022), told AFP.

Because the discontent targeted her more than the head of state who "remained more sheltered".

Today, the anger of the demonstrators "crystallizes on Emmanuel Macron" so that "the Jupiterian presidency could be worth a greater longevity" to its Prime Minister, says the historian.

© 2023 AFP