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Castaner named interior minister as Macron reshuffles cabinet

media French Junior Minister for the Relations with Parliament, Christophe Castaner leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French president Emmanuel Macron reshuffled his government on Tuesday after two weeks of fevered speculation about the changes, which will see former Socialist MP Christophe Castaner take up the key position of interior minister.

The reshuffle was forced by the unexpected resignation of former interior minister Gerard Collomb on 2nd of October, a major blow to Macron as the 40-year-old head of state struggles with record low polling figures.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who has spearheaded Macron's eurozone reform push, and foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian retained their posts.

The MoDem parliamentary leader Marc Fesneau becomes minister in charge of relations with parliament and replaces Christophe Castaner.

The reshuffle also sees Françoise Nyssen leave culture, while Jacques Mazzard (Cohesion of the Territories) and Stéphane Traver (Agriculture) will also be moved, according to a statement from the Elysee Palace.

The head of the directorate-general for internal security (DGSI), Laurent Nunez will second the former secretary of state for relations with the parliament and current delegate general of La République en Marche (REM).

The Minister for Agriculture, Stéphane Travert, hands his portfolio to the former leader of the Socialist senators and current senator for the Drôme department, Didier Guillaume

The Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, stays where he is, but sees his portfolio expanded and is joined by a secretary of state for youth and the establishment of the universal national service (UNS), the LaRem Gabriel Attal.

Jacqueline Gourault replaces Jacques Mézard at the ministry for cohesion of territories and relations with local authorities, with Sébastien Lecornu and Julien Denormandie appointed state ministers.

The deputy for Agir (center-right) Franck Riester replaces the Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen, who was weakened by a real estate controversy in recent weeks.

The announcement puts an end to two weeks of discussions between the head of state and the Prime Minister about the reshuffle that was necessitated by the resignation of Gérard Collomb.

France’s leader had been expected to announce the revamp last week, but said he wanted to take more time to ensure the right decisions were made. Opponents said that raised questions about the depth of experience in his party. An official in Macron’s office described the new cabinet as “dynamic”.

“We have both incoming names with a reputation in their areas of expertise, which will strengthen the government’s efficiency and others who have a broader profile,” the official said.

A slowing economy and concerns about spending power in France, coupled with a series of verbal gaffes that have given ammunition to his opponents, have also served to undermine his popularity.

Macron's polling numbers have slumped to their lowest level since his electoral victory in May 2017, with surveys showing that only around 30 percent of French voters have a positive view of his presidency.

(with AFP, Reuters)

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