'I owe everything to Emmanuel Macron'


France's new prime Gabriel Attal

Gabriel Attal was on the list of candidates for the post of head of the cabinet and was even among its top three leaders. But it seemed more realistic to appoint him either Minister of Defense or Minister of Agriculture. But the president decided otherwise. At 34, Attal became the youngest prime minister of France, breaking the record of Laurent Fabius — he took the prime minister’s chair at 37. He is also the first prime minister who is officially gay in a registered common-law marriage.

Attal’s move to the Matignon Palace should in no way affect the general line of Macron and his party. At least not at first. However, it is clear that the appointment of a young politician to such a responsible post did not happen for nothing.

«Now it is interesting what room for maneuver he was left with,» says Mathieu Gallard, an expert at the international research company Ipsos. — «There is a risk that we will get a kind of Macron clone — a young technocrat leader».

Of course, the career is rapid, even if we take into account that Attal after graduating from university managed to be a socialist. He worked as an assistant minister in the cabinet of François Hollande, but in 2016 he gave up his party card and joined Macron’s party, which was then called «Republic Forward».

During the «yellow vests» rampage, Attal went to all TV and radio programs, gave interviews to newspapers. It’s just that no one else wanted to stick their head out and go under the cameras.

«So what, I’m a soldier», Attal said at the time. — «Wherever they send me, that’s where I’ll go. Many members of the government had already managed to build a political career before Macron’s election. This is not my case. I owe him absolutely everything».

As soon as the pandemic began, Attal became the government’s official spokesman, which means he was once again left to answer the toughest questions and to be virtually associated with all the negative — and other — side effects of the pandemic. These include masks, overcrowded hospitals, all kinds of prohibitions and inconveniences.

Already being the Minister of Education, Attal was in the same mood when he went on TV channels and defended the presidential idea of banning Muslim abaya dresses in schools. It only seems like nonsense, but in France even any hint of encroachment on Muslim symbols can lead to a number of serious demonstrations. And openly defending an idea is a serious challenge.

Resilience and the ability to take a punch are qualities that the president liked when he chose a new prime minister. The previous government went through two serious reforms — pension and migration ones. Both of them were adopted in one form or another, but they seriously affected everyone. Next, Elisabeth Borne and her Musketeers had to be sacrificed, because they are associated both by the opposition and voters with reforms that are not understood by everyone.

Macron has worked up to the middle of his mandate, and the second half should be finished on the rise, so that, as they say, «his cause lives on». For this purpose, the French president proposed a program of triple «rearmament», which begins already from the new year, 2024.

Civilian. This theme concerns mainly young people and is about, roughly speaking, «making Republicans». That is, to bring the values of the Fifth Republic to young people and to educate decent or at least normal citizens who do not cut the heads of teachers. And Attal just ran the Ministry of Education.

Industrial. France’s industrial independence has been shaken in the last two or three decades. This is primarily due to the fact that large enterprises have moved production to other countries, and with them went their taxes. It even turned out, for example, that France now depends on the producers of its own high-class medicines, which are made in Asia and sold there, and there were cases when they do not have enough for themselves — only «something for the head» is on sale.

European. European elections are coming up in June — and here Renaissance, Macron’s party, is far from the pedestal. This is another reason why Attal was appointed prime minister.

The main winner in the upcoming elections is still considered to be the far-right National Rally, led by 28-year-old Jordan Bardella under the patronage of Marine Le Pen. Now he is at the peak of his popularity, especially among young people, and Attal’s age — let us remind you, 34 — will be helpful here, by the way.

He speaks to young people in their language, too. When he had to take the rap for all the misfortunes of hard times as a government spokesman, he organized live coverage even from the Elysee Palace on social media, attracting some of the country’s biggest Influencers.

Another reason for choosing Attal is that he is, after all, a former leftist. This may calm down the opposition a bit, which will start to look for common ground with the government, instead of rejecting everything as they did under the previous cabinet. In addition, the left wing of the Renaissance will also exhale.

Of course, Attal is by no means a «labor France» candidate. It hasn’t even dreamed of his prestigious school and university.

«What do you want from him, he has never worked, how does he know what the people are thinking», says one of the former cabinet ministers Borne. — «We don’t know what his ideas and beliefs are at all. He showed himself well in the Accounts Chamber and in the Ministry of Education, but here he will have to solve specific tasks manually. However, he learns well and understands everything at a glance».

As for Attal’s presidential ambitions, as the saying goes, «A prime minister who doesn’t dream of becoming president is a bad one». The year 2027 is still a long way off, but he is on the list of possible contenders for the Elysee Palace. At first he will be Macron’s shadow, but then, especially after the outcome of the European elections — everything is possible.