Macron picks Jean Castex as PM after French PM Philippe resigns

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Jean Castex, 55, comes from the center-right of French politics and served for two years as the second-highest-ranking official in the Elysee Palace during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency. He has played a key role as a mayor in the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jean Castex, 55, comes from the center-right of French politics and served for two years as the second-highest-ranking official in the Elysee Palace during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency. He has played a key role as a mayor in the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday tapped Jean Castex, a top civil servant, as prime minister in a high-stakes Cabinet reshuffle.

"The president of the Republic has named Jean Castex as prime minister and mandated him to form a government," the presidency said in a brief statement.

The new premier replaces Edouard Philippe, who resigned earlier on Friday.

Castex, 55, comes from the center-right of French politics and served for two years as the second-highest-ranking official in the Elysee Palace during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency. He has played a key role as a mayor in the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Elysee official described Castex as a senior civil servant whose experience in local politics would help Macron connect with provincial France. Castex was a "social Gaullist", the official said about the more interventionist, a socially-minded wing of France's center-right.

Macron and Philippe dined together on Wednesday and met on Thursday. The Elysee source described Thursday's discussions as warm and friendly. Both men agreed on "the need for a new government to embody the next phase, a new path," the aide said.

A reshuffle has been expected for some time, and it is common practice for a French president to replace a prime minister during the five-year term in office known as the "quinquennat".

Macron has already admitted that the recession caused by the health crisis would require the government to shift tack.

Macron's move to refashion his centrist government comes after voters punished the former investment banker and his party in nationwide municipal elections.

The elections revealed surging support for the Green party and underlined Macron's troubles with left-leaning voters. The only bright spot for Macron was Philippe's own victory in the northern port city of Le Havre. — Agencies


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