French President Emmanuel Macron, on Monday, named Labour Minister, Elisabeth Borne, as prime minister to lead his ambitious reform plans, the first woman to head the French government in over 30 years.
Outgoing French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, earlier handed his resignation to the president, part of a widely expected reshuffle to make way for a new government following Macron’s re-election in April and ahead of legislative elections in June.
The centrist Macron will need a legislative majority to push through his domestic agenda following his re-election, with a new left-wing alliance and the far-right threatening to block his programme.
The last woman premier, Edith Cresson, briefly headed the cabinet from May 1991 to April 1992 under president Francois Mitterrand.
Ending weeks of speculation, the Elysee confirmed Borne’s nomination in a statement and she then headed to the Matignon residence of the premier in Paris for the handover with Castex.
“Nothing can stop the fight for the place of women in our society,” she said at the handover, dedicating her appointment to “all the little girls” who should “realise their dreams.”
A former environment minister, Borne also notably urged a “quicker and stronger” reaction to the “climatic and ecological challenge”.
In a tweet addressed to “Madam Prime Minister,” Macron set out their priorities.
“Ecology, health, education, full employment, democratic revival, Europe and security. Together, with the new government, we will continue to act tirelessly for French people,” he said.
Borne, 61, is seen as an able technocrat who can negotiate prudently with unions, as the president embarks on a new package of social reforms that notably include a rise in the retirement age which risks sparking protests.
A French presidential official, who asked not to be named, described Borne as a woman of “conviction, action and realisation,” noting her “capacity to carry out reforms.”
“It was high time there was another woman,” Cresson, who knows Borne personally, told BFMTV.
“She is a remarkable person, with great experience in the public and private sectors… She’s a very good choice because she’s a remarkable person, not because she’s a woman,” she added.