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Macron Appoints France’s Youngest and First Openly Gay Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal

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PARIS, France – In a historic move, French President Emmanuel Macron named Gabriel Attal, 34, as his new prime minister on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.

Attal, previously the Education and Youth Minister, has become the youngest and first openly gay head of government in the nation’s history.

This appointment marks a strategic shift for Macron, who is aiming to rejuvenate his leadership in preparation for the upcoming European parliament elections.

While Attal’s nomination is not expected to bring significant political change, it underscores Macron’s intent to distance his administration from last year’s contentious pension and immigration reforms.

“Dear @GabrielAttal, I know I can count on your energy and your commitment to implement the project of revitalisation and regeneration that I announced,” President Macron stated on social media platform X.

The president, currently lacking a working majority in parliament, has faced challenges in advancing his reform agenda, which has increasingly leaned to the right.

This strategy is seen as an effort to consolidate support among conservative voters, particularly to counteract the rising popularity of the far right, led by Marine Le Pen.

The new prime minister’s rise to prominence came during his tenure as government spokesman amid the COVID pandemic, where he gained a reputation for his effective communication skills.

Recent polls have indicated that Attal is among France’s most popular politicians, a key factor in his selection by Macron.

The move comes as Macron and Attal, whose combined age is just below that of U.S. President Joe Biden, seek to refresh the French political landscape.

Attal replaces Elisabeth Borne, 62, the second woman to hold the prime minister’s position in France, whose term was marked by widespread protests and riots.

Critics, however, remain skeptical about the extent of change this reshuffle will bring. Jordan Bardella, leader of Le Pen’s National Rally party, remarked, “By appointing Gabriel Attal… Emmanuel Macron wants to cling to his popularity in opinion polls to alleviate the pain of an interminable end to his reign.”

Meanwhile, Parisian citizen Sophie Varillon expressed indifference, questioning the practical impact of this reshuffle on everyday lives.

Conversely, Patrick Vignal, a member of Macron’s Renaissance party, praised Attal, comparing him to Macron in 2017 – a time when the president was popularly welcomed as the youngest leader in modern French history.

“Attal is clear, he has authority,” Vignal said, highlighting the new prime minister’s potential to invigorate the government.

As Macron and Attal prepare to announce a new government in the coming days, France waits to see whether this historic appointment signals a true change in direction or simply continuity under a new guise.

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