PARIS: 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 October 2, a major blow to Macron as the 40-year-old head of state struggles with record low polling figures.
Castaner is one of the main figures in Macron’s inner circle, having backed him from the early stages of his campaign for the presidency, and currently serves as head of Macron’s party, the Republic on the Move.
Macron will hope the reshaped government — which includes new faces at the culture, agriculture, and the so-called “social cohesion” ministries — will signal a fresh start after a torrid few months.
The centrist suffered the first major scandal of his presidency in July when a security aide was filmed hitting a protester, while three ministers have quit since the beginning of September.
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.