French Prime Minister Resigns Amid Turmoil

Elisabeth Borne was country's second female PM
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2024 5:09 PM CST
France's Second Female Prime Minister Resigns
French President Emmanuel Macron and French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne review troops during a ceremony for late French politician and former European Commission President Jacques Delors in the courtyard of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024.   (Stephanie Lecocq, Pool via AP, File)

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne resigned Monday following recent political turmoil over immigration, paving the way for President Emmanuel Macron to seek fresh momentum by appointing a new government in coming days. The shakeup was widely seen as an attempt by the 46-year-old centrist Macron to head off looming lame-duck status, the AP reports. Macron's term is to end in 2027, and he won't be able to run for president for a consecutive third term in line with the French Constitution. In her resignation letter, Borne suggested she resigned at Macron's request, citing the president's "will" to "appoint a new prime minister."

Borne's resignation followed the passage late last month of contentious immigration legislation backed by Macron aimed at strengthening the government's ability to deport some foreigners, among other measures. Macron's centrist alliance was able to pass the measure only after making a deal with the conservative Republicans party, which many observers saw as the government's shift to the right. The tough negotiations and heated parliament debate raised questions over the ability of Borne's government to pass future major bills. Borne, 62, was appointed in May 2022 after Macron's reelection for a second term. She was France's second female prime minister.

The following month, Macron's centrists lost their majority in parliament, forcing the government into political maneuvering and using special constitutional powers to be able to pass laws. Last year, Borne faced mass protests often marred by violence against unpopular pension changes. The bill to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 was enacted into law in April, angering many people across the country. She also faced days of riots that erupted across France at the beginning of the summer, triggered by the deadly police shooting of a teen.

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Macron's office announced his acceptance of Borne's resignation in a statement and said Borne will continue in her duties until a new government is appointed. French media outlets reported Monday evening that Education Minister Gabriel Attal, 34, was the favorite for the job. If named, he would be the youngest prime minister in France's modern history. Under the French political system, the prime minister is appointed by the president and accountable to the parliament. The prime minister is in charge of implementing domestic policy and coordinating the government's team of ministers. (More France stories.)

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