“Baby Macron”: the incredible rise of PM Gabriel Attal

“Baby Macron”: the incredible rise of PM Gabriel Attal

Following a Macron cabinet reshuffle ahead of the European Elections, a lot has been made about new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, according to BBC News.

Despite Attal’s tender age of 34, the minister has a vast array of experience in high political positions. Elected in 2017 in the Haute Seine’s 10th constituency, he was then appointed, on 16 October 2018, as a Junior Minister to the Minister of National Education at the age of 29 which made him the youngest government minister under France’s Fifth Republic. 

Following his two-year spell in that role, he became government spokesperson under then Prime Minister Jean Castex and served in the role from 2020 to 2022 before being named Minister of Public Action and Accounts. 

Controversially he was the Minister of National Education at the time when the abaya – a robelike garment worn by some Muslim women which covers the whole body asides from the face, hands and feet- ban was imposed. 

Ahead of the school term in 2023, which starts in September in France, Attal said on national television that, “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils”.

READ: France’s PM claims Mali “contained” terrorism when French troops were present

In the recent past, the country has acted tough on Muslim pieces of clothing which has attracted concern by some that France is at best, pandering to the far right and at worst, lurching to the extreme right. 

Now Macron’s right-hand man, Attal becomes the youngest Prime Minister as well at the first openly gay leader of government in French history. He replaced Elisabeth Borne on January 9. 

READ: France’s top court rejects appeal to overturn abaya ban

His rise to the top has attracted copious media attention. In a Le Monde article titled, “France’s new PM Gabriel Attal: The spectacular rise of a Macron stalwart” the piece highlights his impressive political career to date in addition to making note of his age due to the rareness of somebody so youthful becoming French Prime Minister. 

The Guardian dubbed him the “Baby Macron”, an apparent nod to the fact that he could become President one day. 

June’s EU elections will be key for a bloody-nosed Macron. Shortly after his reelection in early 2022, France had parliamentary elections in which his Renaissance Party lost its majority meaning it has been difficult for them to pass laws. 

The French President , who as we have established has been given a bloody nose, also had egg on his face following a notable bill rejection. 

Both the hard left and right rejected his draft law, but for completely different reasons. 

The left argued that the bill was an attempt to legitimise demonisation of migrants and to use them as a political football whilst the other end of the political spectrum argued that the law was not tough enough, nicknaming it a, “pro-immigration law”. 

2024 is a big year for President Macron, and indeed for the new Prime Minister. Current EU election polling shows that the Macron coalition is trailing the far right Rassemblement National (formerly Front National) by 11 points. It is also expected that the left-wing coalition will poll healthily come June. 

Also, last year saw many polls that said that right-wing figurehead Marine Le Pen would become President had an election taken place at the time. 

The Guardian/ BBC News/ France 24 


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