June 22, 2017
Here comes the new guard
The French government crisis was short lived: François Bayrou and Marielle de Sarnez resigned yesterday morning. In the evening, Édouard Philippe presented his reshuffled cabinet, bringing in more women, more socialists, and more young people. With Bayrou goes one of the last experienced politicians in the government. Now it is all up to the newcomers.
The reshuffle, which was supposed to be only a technical one after the legislative elections, ended up being a big renewal after the departure of four key ministers. Florence Parly, former state secretary under Lionel Jospin, will succeed Sylvie Goulard as defence minister. Nicole Belloubet, former socialist MP and member of the constitutional council, will follow Bayrou at the helm of the justice ministry. For European affairs we now have Nathalie Loiseau, an experienced diplomat and director of the elite administration school ENA, and a member of Alain Juppe’s cabinet in 1993. MoDem continues to be part of the government with two posts, though at the junior minister level. An interesting observation is that there is no more recruitment from the Republicans, not even from the Macron-compatible Republicans, who are calling themselves the Constructives, and together with the centrist UDI are forming a new opposition group in parliament (see our parallel story).
The undoing of François Bayrou was not only the probe into fictive employment against his MoDem party. Or the fact that he and de Sarnez went after François Fillon when he came under investigation. It was also the fact that Bayrou and his party became expendable after the legislative elections. La République en Marche got enough seats to be independent on MoDem for a majority (even if MoDem got their best results ever). The other reason is that the centre is now the majority, and represented by three parties - LREM, MoDem and the Constructive/UDI group, called LRC-UDI. Bayrou was once the lone defender of the centre, and incarnated this position throughout his political life. Now, when he finally got to the top, he has to let go. Life is unfair sometimes, concludes Cécile Cornudet.