NEW DECK, DETAILS ABOUT NEW PRIME MINISTER; REWRITTEN THROUGHOUT
By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) – Following the resignation of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday, President Emmanuel Macron moved quickly to name a successor, choosing a key figure in France’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister-designate Jean Castex, 55, a former mayor of the small southern town of Prades, prepared France's exit strategy from the virus lockdown.
A further reshuffle of the Cabinet is expected, but until Castex takes office next Wednesday, Philippe and his ministers will stay on to deal with “current matters,” said an Elysee Palace statement.
Philippe on Sunday won the post of mayor of Le Havre. He is a native of the northern coastal town and had held the post before ascending to the national government.
The poor showing of Macron’s party in Sunday’s local elections could signal an opening for Philippe in the 2022 presidential polls.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Philippe's popularity has soared at the expense of Macron’s. According to a June 21 poll conducted by Ifop for the Le Journal Dimanche, Philippe's approval rating was at 50%, with Macron's lagging well behind at 39%.
A BVA survey for RTL showed Philippe had gained popularity over Macron during the coronavirus crisis, with 54% of those surveyed saying they trust him versus only 38% trusting Macron.
Macron’s government has been dogged by the Yellow Vests protests, unpopular economic reforms, and stumbles dealing with COVID-19.