Gabriel Attal, 34, becomes France’s youngest Prime Minister

Gabriel Attal

Gabriel Attal; France Prime Minister.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday appointed 34-year-old Education Minister Gabriel Attal as France’s new Prime Minister.

This is in a bid to seek to breathe new life into Macron’s second mandate ahead of European parliament elections.

The move will not necessarily lead to any major political shift, but signals a desire for Macron to try to move beyond last year’s unpopular pension and immigration reforms and improve his centrist party’s chances in the June EU ballot.

Opinion polls show Macron’s camp trailing far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s party by around eight to 10 percentage points.

Attal, a close Macron ally, who became a household name as government spokesman during the COVID pandemic, will replace outgoing Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Attal, one of the country’s most popular politicians in recent opinion polls, has made a name for himself as a savvy minister at ease, on radio shows and in parliament.

Macron, at the end of 2023, had said he would announce new political initiatives.

“Dear @GabrielAttal, I know I can count on your energy and your commitment to implement the project of revitalisation and regeneration that I announced,” Macron said.

Attal will be France’s youngest Prime Minister and the first to be openly gay.

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He and Macron have a combined age just below that of Joe Biden, who is running for a second mandate in this year’s U.S. presidential election.

Macron has struggled to deal with a more turbulent parliament since losing his absolute majority shortly after being re-elected in 2022.

Jordan Bardella, the 28-year old leader of Le Pen’s National Rally party, said: “By appointing Gabriel Attal, Emmanuel Macron wants to cling to his popularity in opinion polls to alleviate the pain of an interminable end to his reign.

“Instead, he risks taking the short-lived education minister with him in his fall.”

Other opposition leaders were quick to say they did not expect much from the change in prime minister, with Macron himself taking on much of the decision-making.

“Elisabeth Borne, Gabriel Attal or someone else, I don’t care. It will just be the same policies,” Socialist Party Leader Olivier Faure told France Inter radio.

However, MP Patrick Vignal, who belongs to Macron’s Renaissance party, said Attal is “a bit like the Macron of 2017”, referring to the point at which the president first took office as the youngest leader in modern French history – at the time, a popular figure among voters.

“It is clear, he has authority,” Vignal said.(Reuters/NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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