French president reshuffles cabinet after election defeats

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron reshuffled his cabinet Monday in an attempt to adjust to a new political reality following legislative elections in which his centrist alliance failed to win a parliamentary majority.

The latest government reshuffle comes six weeks after Macron appointed Elisabeth Borne to lead a new governing coalition at the start of the president’s second term. It is partly the result of rules that Macron, and French presidents before him, had put in place before the parliamentary vote: only ministers who retain their seats will remain in government posts.

Three of Macron’s 15 ministers failed to win re-election to parliament in a two-round vote last month and were replaced on Monday. Christophe Bechu is the new environment minister and Francois Braun is in charge of health. Herve Berville is the secretary of state for the sea.

In addition, Damien Abad, the disability policy minister who is under investigation for rape and sexual misconduct, has been replaced by Jean-Christophe Combe, the former director general of the French Red Cross.

The new cabinet is expected to hold its first meeting later on Monday.

The sexual misconduct allegations against Abad emerged just days after Borne, the second woman in French history to be appointed prime minister, announced her new government on May 22 following Macron’s re-election in April.

The accusations were particularly embarrassing for the new prime minister and president, who claim to be champions of women’s rights and have promised “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct.

Two women claimed that Abad had assaulted them more than a decade ago. He has strongly denied the allegations and said such claims would be impossible given his own disability, which affects his joints and muscles.

Macro together! The alliance won the most seats in the National Assembly in last month’s elections, but fell 44 seats short of a majority in France’s most powerful parliamentary chamber, as voters opted for the leftist Nupes coalition and the National group of extreme right of Marine Le Pen.

With the most seats in the National Assembly, his government still has the ability to govern, but only by negotiating with legislators. To avoid the impasse, Macron’s Renaissance party and its allies may try to negotiate on a case-by-case basis with center-left and conservative party lawmakers.

Macron was re-elected president in April on an agenda that includes measures to boost purchasing power, tax cuts and raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 65.

Last week, the National Assembly elected another Macron loyalist, Yael Braun-Pivet, as the new president, the first woman to hold the post. She was elected after her predecessor lost her seat in parliament in the elections.


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