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Macron braces for tough second term with Cabinet reshuffle

PARIS — France’s new Cabinet is a rebalancing act, not a sweeping transformation.

With several new ministers from allied parties, but no major poaches from the opposition, the reshuffle aims to appease coalition partners, but won’t make running the country any easier. The previous government’s most problematic figure, Damien Abad, has been booted out, but some controversial figures remain.

Minister of Solidarity Abad, who was accused of rape, has been replaced by Jean-Christophe Combe — head of the French Red Cross. Abad said that he left the ministry with “great regret” and that his presumption of innocence was disregarded.

International Development Minister Chrysoula Zacharopoulou faces allegations of sexual violence during medical examinations at her gynecology practice, but will remain in her job.

The three ministers who lost in the parliamentary elections were also replaced, including the recently appointed Amélie de Montchalin, who was environment minister, and Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon.

The big shots, however, are all still there. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will battle on. In a speech to parliament on Wednesday, she’ll present the new government’s agenda, and could potentially face a vote of no confidence. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire remains, and retains the widened portfolio given to him after the election, which now includes “digital sovereignty.” And Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin’s role has been expanded, adding overseas territories to his portfolio.

Catherine Colonna remains as foreign minister, with a new number two for European affairs: Laurence Boone, the OECD’s chief economist. Boone replaces Clément Beaune, who has been been a key man in Brussels for Macron since 2020. Beaune will take on a new portfolio as transport minister.

Macron’s choices for his reshuffled Cabinet reflect a new political reality for him and his party. Having lost outright parliamentary majority in last month’s legislative election following a poor performance by his party La République en marche (LREM), Macron has had to steer clear of purely technocratic appointments and make room for allies in his coalition instead.

There are now four government ministers from Mouvement démocrate, a key LREM ally. Sarah El Haïry (youth minister), Jean-Noël Barrot (digital affairs minister) and Geneviève Darrieussecq (minister for people with disabilities) join Marc Fesneau, who keeps his post as agriculture minister. Meanwhile, Christophe Béchu (environment minister) and Agnès Firmin-Le Bodo (minister for health administration) have been drafted in from Horizons, the party led by former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, which is also allied to LREM.

These appointees from parties other than LREM have little experience in their respective portfolios. Barrot, for instance, is from a background in finance, not technology.

There are still some nominations that bring expertise to the Cabinet. With a strong track record in urban planning, Olivier Klein brings weight to his portfolio as housing minister, while emergency physician François Braun was appointed health minister.

Stanislas Guérini continues as minister for public services, despite not being able to oversee any work to do with cloud computing because of a conflict of interest.

Marlène Schiappa, the former gender equality minister and media darling who was sometimes criticized for stacking up TV appearances instead of pursuing an ambitious policy agenda, makes an unexpected comeback as minister of citizenship.

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