French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday elected Labor Minister Elizabeth Bourne as his new prime minister as he prepares for the June assembly elections, the second time a woman has been appointed in 30 years.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Jean Castex handed in his resignation, paving the way for a cabinet reshuffle following Macron’s re-election in April.
Macron, who has to show that he has heard the frustrations of voters expressed by fewer voters and has garnered huge support for the far right and left, is looking for a prime minister with green and social policy credentials.
Such a profile could help tackle a challenge mounted by hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Melanchon, who won a strong third place in the presidential election, giving him the opportunity to convene a broad coalition of left-leaning parties in parliament on June 12-19. Vote.
Bourne, 61, will be the first woman to be named prime minister since Edith Cresson briefly took office during the presidency of socialist leader Francois Mitterrand in the early 1990’s.
A soft-spoken career bureaucrat who served numerous Socialist Party ministers before joining Macron’s government, Bourne had a brief stint as environment minister in 2019 as he pursued a bicycle-friendly policy.
He then took charge of the Ministry of Labor and supervised negotiations with the unions which reduced the unemployment benefits for some job seekers.
In his view, unemployment is at its lowest level in 15 years and youth unemployment is at its lowest level in 40 years.
Bourne’s deep insight into the workings of the state will help Macron go through more difficult reforms. He will be tasked with overseeing France’s muscular unions to oversee his most competitive electoral promise: raising the retirement age.
“He’s a real workaholic, someone who can go on until 3 in the morning and come back at 7 in the morning,” said a former Burns worker.
A shrewd technocrat who has never competed in public office, Bourne burned his credentials as a staunch negotiator against trade unions during Macron’s first term.
As transport minister in 2017, he took a stand against week-long strikes and demonstrations to end a liberal pension and benefits system for SNCF railway workers.