In a move aimed at injecting fresh energy into his administration, French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed 34-year-old Gabriel Attal as the country’s new Prime Minister. Attal, the former Education Minister, becomes the youngest person to hold the office in French history, surpassing Michel Rocard who was 37 when he took the role in 1988.
Macron’s decision to replace Élisabeth Borne, who resigned on Monday, comes as he faces declining approval ratings and growing public discontent over rising living costs and the government’s handling of immigration. The appointment of Attal, a dynamic and popular figure within Macron’s centrist La République En Marche (REM) party, is seen as an attempt to reboot the presidency and appeal to younger voters ahead of key European Parliament elections in May.
Attal, a graduate of the prestigious École Normale Supérieure and a former McKinsey consultant, is known for his communication skills and his ability to connect with voters across the political spectrum. He is also a close confidante of Macron, having served as his spokesperson during the 2017 presidential campaign.
Despite his youthful energy and Macron’s backing, Attal faces a number of significant challenges in his new role. The French economy is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and inflation is at a 40-year high. There is also deep public disquiet over immigration, with far-right parties making gains in recent polls.
In addition to these immediate challenges, Attal will also need to navigate the complex relationship between the President and the Prime Minister. Under the French Constitution, the President wields significant executive power, but the Prime Minister is responsible for leading the government and setting policy. Macron has a reputation for being a hands-on President, and it remains to be seen how much autonomy Attal will be given.
Macron’s decision to appoint Attal is a gamble. While his youth and dynamism may appeal to some voters, others may see him as inexperienced and lacking in the gravitas needed to lead the country through a time of crisis. It remains to be seen whether Attal will be able to revive Macron’s presidency or whether he will become another casualty of the current political climate in France.