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French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne resigns

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has resigned, the French presidency has said.

It comes as President of France Emmanuel Macron seeks to give a new impetus to his second mandate ahead of European Parliament elections and the Paris Olympics this summer.

Mr Macron did not immediately name a successor and Ms Borne will act as caretaker until a new government is named.

The French president and his government have struggled to deal with more turbulent politicians to pass laws since losing their absolute majority in parliament shortly after Mr Macron was re-elected for a second mandate in 2022.

The change in prime minister comes after a year marred by political crises triggered by contested reforms of the pension system and immigration laws.

It also comes just five months before European Parliament elections, with eurosceptics expected to make record gains at a time of widespread public discontent over surging living costs and the failure of European governments to curb migration flows.

Opinion polls show Mr Macron’s party is trailing far-right leader Marine Le Pen by around eight to ten points for the June EU election.

Speculation of a government reshuffle had been rife since Mr Macron promised a new political initiative in December.

A soft-spoken career bureaucrat who served numerous Socialist Party ministers before joining Mr Macron’s governments, Ms Borne had been prime minister since May 2022.

Aged 62, she was only the second woman to serve in the post.

Possible successors

Among those cited as potential candidates to replace Ms Borne are 34-year-old Minister for Education Gabriel Attal and 37-year-old Minister for Defence Sebastien Lecornu, either of whom would be France’s youngest ever prime minister.

Minister for Finance Bruno Le Maire and former agriculture minister Julien Denormandie have also been mentioned by pundits as possible options.

(L-R) Elisabeth Borne, Emmanuel Macron, Bruno Le Maire (file image)

The change in prime minister will not necessarily lead to a shift in political tack, but rather signal a desire to move beyond the pension and immigration reforms and focus on new priorities, including hitting full employment.

Mr Macron and his government, led by Ms Borne, have struggled to deal with a more turbulent parliament to pass laws since losing their absolute majority shortly after Macron was re-elected for a second mandate in 2022.

The French president’s advisers say he has managed to pass the most challenging parts of his economic manifesto in the first year and a half of his second mandate, despite the lack of an absolute majority, and that future reforms, on education and euthanasia for instance, will be more consensual.

But Mr Macron’s decision to use executive powers last year to pass a contested increase in the pension age to 64 triggered weeks of violent protests.

The reshuffle is likely to intensify the race in Mr Macron’s camp to succeed him in the next presidential election in 2027, with former prime minister Edouard Philippe, Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin and Mr Le Maire all seen as potential candidates.

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