French president appoints loyal backer as interior minister in gov't reshuffle

Elias Hubbard
October 19, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron has reshuffled his government in a bid to regain public support.

According to the newspaper, the interior Minister of France, was appointed one of the closest associates of Macron Christoph Kastner.

There were also rumours of a reported bust-up between Macron and his prime minister Edouard Philippe, which were dismissed by the PM.

It came at a time when Macron sought to push through a batch of unpopular labour and social reforms whose safe passage through the National Assembly depended on his party majority in the chamber.

The heavyweight finance and foreign affairs ministers retain their positions while Marlène Schiappa, the gender equality minister, and Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister, have been granted wider remits. Macron's office said the changes are meant to accompany further reforms. The switch followed an unprecedented two-week search to replace Gérard Collomb, a veteran leftist who resigned in disagreement with the president.

He resigned his leadership of Macron's party to take up the job. The current head of France's intelligence agency DGSI, Laurent Nunez, has been tapped to serve as deputy interior minister. In addition, new ministers of culture, agriculture and territorial cohesion have been appointed.

Macron, a former investment banker, shook up the staid world of French politics in 2016 by founding his own pro-business, pro-EU grassroots party, which he presented as neither of the left nor the right.

Analysts say his ministers have struggled to emerge from the shadow of a president with a top-down, highly centralised style of governing.

The centrist suffered the first major scandal of his presidency in July when a security aide was filmed hitting a protestor, while three ministers have quit since the beginning of September.

Macron was accused of covering up for Alexandre Benalla, who was sacked from his Elysee Palace job after Le Monde newspaper revealed the affair.

The move comes as Macron's approval ratings have dropped to just over 30 percent, the lowest since he took office.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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