Beleaguered by months of scandals and setbacks, French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing extensive changes to his administration in an effort to resurrect a once-promising presidency. Bloomberg reports that Macron is going to announce a new cabinet on either Monday or Tuesday in an attempt to inject new life and leadership into the French government.
The drastic move comes on the heels of last week’s sudden, shocking resignation of Macron’s most senior cabinet official, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb. Collomb’s resignation was the second messy resignation from Macron’s cabinet — after Energy Minister Nicolas Hulot quit his position on live radio in August — with both officials denigrating Macron’s leadership in the process. Since Collomb’s resignation, Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe have engaged in intense discussions about how best to move forward, and decided to transition in an entirely different direction.
Macron’s long-term plan for the course of his government has been a two-part strategy, with an initial phase designed to issue strong reforms on taxation, labor, and government benefits. Macron’s intention was to provide relief to both business and the labor force in an effort to revive France’s struggling economy. Phase two of the strategy was designed to capitalize on a projected economic revival to propel a successful run into the 2022 presidential election. Macron was set up for success after his election in 2017, enjoying a five-year term with a majority in Parliament — and no mid-term elections that might derail Macron’s strategy.
Macron’s best-laid plans have so far been unsuccessful, with France’s unemployment rate hovering over 9% and the economy remaining in recession. His constituents have grown restless waiting for Macron to make good on his campaign promises, with his approval rating falling to as low as 30% while voters have often labeled Macron as aloof and arrogant.
The Associated Press reported in August that Macron’s administration was shaken with scandal in July when his security aide, Alexandre Benalla, was captured on video savagely beating a protester during May Day demonstrations. The ensuing investigation — after Le Monde identified Benalla and broke the story — found that Benalla also enjoyed questionable benefits such as a gun permit and access to a police car. Officers who witnessed the violence testified that they did not intervene because Benalla was illegally wearing a police armband during the incident, causing them to believe that he was a police officer in plain clothes. It was also revealed that Macron knew of the beating shortly after it happened, and issued only a mild reprimand for Benalla. Additionally, Benalla’s unofficial position in the government kept all of his perks off the books. Following the investigation, the transparency of Macron’s government came into question, and has dogged him since.
Macron, a former investment banker, won election to the French presidency in 2017. He was widely perceived at the time to be a smart businessman who could engineer the economic stimulus that France so desperately needs.