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Castex’s resignation forces Macron to advance the government crisis

Jean Castex greets Emmanuel Macron, during the acts of the end of the Second World War, on the 8th in Paris. / AFP

The prime minister will leave the Executive imminently; this Thursday he says goodbye to his team and it is ruled out that he can attend the legislative

BEATRIZ JUDGE Correspondent in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron already has a substitute for his Prime Minister Jean Castex, who participated in his last Council of Ministers on Wednesday, although the French head of state has not yet revealed his identity. Two weeks after the presidential elections, in which the reformist leader was re-elected with 58.5% of the vote, there will be a change of government. A relay that will take place a month before the legislative elections on June 12 and 19.

Following the republican tradition, Castex, 56, will officially present his resignation and that of his ministers between Friday and Monday, although no law obliges him to do so. The France Info chain also assured that the leader is going to take “a pause” in his political career, after two years at the head of the government, in which he has had to deal with the health crisis caused by the coronavirus. He will not present himself, therefore, to the legislative ones.

According to article 8 of the French Constitution, the President of the Republic appoints the new Prime Minister. And, at his proposal, to the other members of the Executive. Castex today called a dinner at Matignon, the Prime Minister’s headquarters, to bid farewell to his ministers and secretaries of state. “A formidable team leader, a listening prime minister, a friend, thank you Jean Castex,” the head of the Economy department, Bruno Le Maire, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Before arriving at Matignon, Castex was unknown to most of the French. He was mayor of Prades (Prada, in Catalan), a town of 6,000 inhabitants in the Pyrenees-Orientales department, near the Spanish border. In April 2020, Macron entrusted him with piloting the de-escalation process, after the first confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The French press speculates these days about who could be his replacement. And in many pools Macron would bet on a woman. In the Fifth Republic, France has only had one prime minister: Edith Cresson, appointed in 1991 by the socialist president François Mitterrand. Now those of the current Minister of Employment, Elisabeth Borne; that of the director of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay; or that of Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB).

There is also speculation that Macron could promote any of the current ministers to that position. Among those who have more possibilities, according to the French press, are Julien Denormandie (Agriculture), the aforementioned Bruno Le Maire (Economy) or Gérald Darmanin (Interior).

Absolute majority

If the legislative elections were held today in the country, Macron’s party, La República en Marcha (renaissance) and its allies would obtain an absolute majority with between 310 and 350 seats, a figure similar to the one they currently have, according to the OpinionWay-Kéa Partners weekly barometer for the economic daily ‘Les Echos’.

The union of left-wing parties – La France Insumisa, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV) – would obtain between 135 and 165 seats, thus becoming the main opposition force.

For its part, the Republicans, the party of the moderate right, would go from having 101 deputies to losing an important weight of representation (the same poll gives it 50 to 60 seats). And Regrouping National, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, will rise from the six deputies it currently has to between 20 and 40 seats.

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