France’s Macron to reshuffle cabinet

Published: September 04, 2018 16:02:16 | Updated: September 06, 2018 15:58:23

French President Emmanuel Macron - Reuters photo

French President Emmanuel Macron hopes to draw a line under a raft of troubles plaguing his 16-month-old presidency and to re-energise his economic reform drive with a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

Macron was forced into the move by the surprise exit of his former ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, who said he despaired at what he felt were hollow commitments on environmental policy.

Resigning live on air last week, Hulot’s resignation was a setback for the 40-year-old French leader, who returned from the summer break reeling from a bodyguard scandal and preparing to embark on a new wave of economic reforms.

Benjamin Griveaux, government spokesman, said the cabinet would be complete in time for Wednesday morning’s weekly cabinet meeting but was tight-lipped on the scope of the rejig.

Hours before the expected announcement, Sports Minister Laura Flessel said she was resigning from the government for personal reasons.

“I will continue to be a faithful team mate of the president and prime minister, whose determination I admire and whose values and patriotism I share,” said Flessel, a former Olympic fencing champion and one of Macron’s most popular ministers.

For much of Macron’s first year in power, the former investment banker appeared untouchable, self-assured and unphased by his falling popularity as he pushed through investor-friendly reforms with a business-like efficiency.

Recently, however, Macron has looked more vulnerable, says a Reuters report.

Economic growth is slower than forecast, undermining his deficit-busting credentials. Usually decisive, he is wavering on an impending tax collection reform. Meanwhile, voters are growing impatient with his monarchical style and sharp tongue.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen to this president. He promised to be audacious in his reforms, efficient in the exercise of power, and the embodiment of dignity. In his first few months the promise was kept, but now everything is going wrong,” the right-leaning Le Figaro said in an editorial on Monday.

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