President Emmanuel Macron and his Prime Minister Gabriel Attal pulled off a surprise: the appointment of Rachida Dati as Minister of Culture is not just a personal matter. It's also a directional choice.
Rachida Dati, former justice minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, is one of the most prominent politicians in the right-wing Republican Party, which is now shifting to Macron's camp. Not long ago, Dati described dissident republicans as weak traitors.
The strategy of President Macron and Gabriel Attal is clear. They are trying to include right-wing Republicans because they do not have a majority of their own in Parliament. It is questionable whether this will work: Dati was previously head of the Republican Party in Paris. Her voice carried weight in her party.
Now she was immediately expelled from the party by the national leadership. But she is not the only dissident. The new Minister of Labor and Health, Catherine Vautrin, also previously politicized the Republican Party and was a minister under President Jacques Chirac. It now occupies one of the largest and most important ministries.
The government leans to the right
President Macron has so far been accused of playing politics on both the right and the left. In fact, he has been leaning to the right for a long time. The equation has changed again in the new government.
The arrival of Datti and Vautrin is matched by the departure of the leftist ministers. After the resignation of Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau in protest against the new immigration law imposed by the right, Transport Minister Clement Beaune and Culture Minister Rima Abdel Malik were also dismissed: both of them also criticized the deal surrounding the immigration law.
Popular progress for Atal
President Macron had already announced in his New Year's address that his government would be combative. Politically, it faces major tasks: education reform is a must. The healthcare system needs to be restructured and the debt mountain is growing relentlessly.
New Prime Minister Gabriel Attal began his new office with his popularity increasing. Now he and his team must prove that he can not only build hopes, but also find solutions.
They will also have to fight for votes. The time window for this is short. The European Parliament elections at the beginning of next June will be the next test for the government. Success is not certain for her.
France and Maghreb correspondent
Daniel Fall is SRF Radio's France correspondent based in Paris since 2018. He also counts the Maghreb as part of his reporting area. He previously worked, among other things, as EU correspondent in Brussels and as foreign editor for SRF.
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