Gabriel Attal becomes France’s youngest and first openly gay Prime Minister

In a strategic move aimed at injecting fresh momentum into his second term, French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced the appointment of Gabriel Attal, the 34-year-old Education Minister, as the new prime minister.

Gabriel Attal, new French prime minister
Gabriel Attal, new PM of France. Photo courtesy: Antoine Lamielle

French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed Gabriel Attal, the 34-year-old Education Minister, as the new prime minister in a move aimed at invigorating his second term ahead of the European parliament elections.

This transition signifies Macron’s intent to move past the contentious pension and immigration reforms of the previous year and bolster his centrist party’s prospects in the upcoming EU ballot, rather than signaling a substantial political shift.

Although this change doesn’t guarantee a significant change in policies, it symbolizes Macron’s endeavor to revive his administration’s agenda. Recent opinion polls indicate Macron’s party trailing behind Marine Le Pen’s far-right party by approximately eight to ten percentage points.

Attal, a prominent figure as the government spokesman during the COVID pandemic and a close ally of Macron, is set to replace the outgoing Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Enjoying considerable popularity in recent surveys, Attal has earned recognition for his adeptness as a minister, displaying ease in various media platforms and parliamentary settings.

Macron expressed confidence in Attal’s capabilities, stating, “Dear @GabrielAttal, I know I can count on your energy and your commitment to implement the project of revitalisation and regeneration that I announced.”

This move positions Attal as France’s youngest prime minister and the first openly gay individual to hold the position, alongside Macron, whose combined ages are slightly lower than that of Joe Biden, seeking re-election in the US presidential race.

Macron has encountered challenges in navigating a more volatile parliament following the loss of his absolute majority soon after his re-election in 2022. Jordan Bardella, the 28-year-old leader of Le Pen’s National Rally party, views Attal’s appointment as a means for Macron to sustain his popularity in opinion polls amid the uncertainties marking the latter part of his tenure.

Contrarily, other opposition leaders, such as Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure, remain skeptical about any substantial policy changes, anticipating Macron to retain significant decision-making authority, regardless of the prime ministerial change.

However, within Macron’s Renaissance party, MP Patrick Vignal perceives Attal as reminiscent of Macron during his initial presidency in 2017, highlighting his clarity and authoritative stance. Vignal describes Attal as “a bit like the Macron of 2017,” emphasizing the parallel between Attal’s current attributes and Macron’s earlier appeal among voters.

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