CHANGES HEADLINE, LEDE; DETAILS ABOUT NEW PRIME MINISTER; EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - Jean Castex was appointed Friday as the new Prime Minister of France.
Castex, 55, hails from the Les Republicains of Prades party (LM) and was hand-picked by French President Emmanuel Macron. The moderate politician will leave his post as Mayor of Prades in the Pyrenees-Orientalles region to immediately take up residence at the Matignon.
His appointment comes in the wake of the resignation of now former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who stepped down earlier Friday, handing his resignation to Macron, who accepted it.
Philippe's Cabinet also resigned. A statement released by the Elysee ensures proper governmental conduct will continue "with members of the government, the treatment of current affairs until the appointment of a new government."
The new government will be installed Wednesday, July 8.
Castex was appointed in April by Macron as minister of deconfinement, a role that saw him managing France's exit from nearly two months of lockdown from March 17 to May 11 when the coronavirus COVID-19 gripped the country.
The new prime minister had already been appointed by the president as an interministerial delegate to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in France in 2024.
The father of four daughters is known as a social and moderate politician. Castex started his career with positions in the ministries of health and labor before joining the government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy in several posts, ending as Deputy Secretary General of the Elysium.
He will now seek to flesh out a team that will help carry Macron's vision for the next five years.
The first of the team to be appointed is Nicolas Revel, former deputy secretary general of the Elysee Palace under former President Francois Holland who currently directs the National Health Insurance Fund. Revel will step into the role of chief of staff to Castex.
Philippe will move to his new position as Mayor of Le Havre, a post he ran for and won in Sunday’s municipal elections. He is a native of the northern coastal town and had been mayor prior to ascending to the national government.
A further reshuffling 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.
A poor showing by 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.