Jul 7, 2020 - World

Macron attempts a reboot

"And what will you have for the second term?" Photo: Maja Hitij - Pool via Getty

French President Emmanuel Macron is hitting refresh after three years in power, replacing his popular prime minister on Friday and reshuffling his Cabinet today.

Why it matters: Macron’s focus is now on the economic recovery from the coronavirus as the 2022 election begins to loom a bit larger on the horizon.

  • While his approval ratings have ticked up slightly during the pandemic, they have been deep underwater since the early days of his presidency.

Driving the news: Local elections last week offered a window into how Macron’s reputation differs at home and abroad.

  • He is one of the world leaders most closely associated with the global fight against climate change, having convened international gatherings and offered impassioned oratory on the issue. He even sparked the Yellow Vest protests by announcing a gas tax.
  • So it may come as a surprise that the main contributor to his party’s drubbing was the eco-conscious left. The Greens took Bordeaux, Lyon and Strasbourg, and allied in Paris with Socialist Anne Hidalgo, who was easily re-elected.
  • Critics say Macron’s actions on climate haven’t matched his rhetoric (he withdrew the gas tax, for example).
  • Between the lines: This is another issue on which, by positioning himself as a president of “neither right nor left,” Macron may end up pleasing almost no one.

What to watch: The incoming prime minister, Jean Castex, is seen as a low-key but industrious bureaucrat, according to the FT. The outgoing one, Édouard Philippe, is far more popular than his old boss and could even challenge him in 2022.

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