President Emmanuel Macron is determined to prove his centrist credentials. In an open invitation to the left, Macron named on May 16 Elisabeth Borne as France’s new prime minister. Remarkable it was for many reasons. Borne is the second woman in France’s political history to occupy the prime post and the first in three decades. Though Borne’s nomination could turn the French far-right blue in the face, it should be seen as a victory for the go-getter.
At the outset, Borne deserves her appointment. The sexagenarian civil engineer is known to be a person with resourcefulness and right vibes to help Macron hit his growth targets and push through his difficult reforms. Macron should feel happy to have his hopes rightly pinned on her.
Right for Reforms
As a politician, Borne’s immediate priority is to win another majority for Macron in the imminent June 2022 parliamentary elections. As an administrator, her focus will be on reining in consumer inflation which is on flight now. As a left ideologist and a member of the centre-left party Territories of Progress (she is a member of Macron’s party Renaissance as well), her efforts will be to secure the Macron-promised pension reforms.
Macron knows well Borne is a tough negotiator. As a former transport minister, Borne had ushered in competitive reforms in France’s state-owned railroad system and in labour contract laws. These reforms were elbowed in despite murmurs of disapproval from the unions.
As a former labour minister, Borne was successful in pulling down key indicators of joblessness. Thus, she should naturally place now pushing up employment ratios at the top of her long to-do list. Macron had tweeted about achieving full employment as one of his priority goals. A career socialist she is, Borne will see this task right up her alley.
These factors introduce considerable right-versus-left political balance at the top in Macron’s government. Such equilibrium was missing in Macron’s dispensation as his both former prime ministers were aligned to the centre-right. French political observers say Macron is certain to vest in Borne additional charge of implementing climate and green-house policies, which remain the fulcrum around which Macron’s strategy wheel revolves. What more, Borne was the minister of ecological transition in Macron’s first government.
A Trusted Ally
If Borne takes over the key environment ministry tomorrow, do not be surprised. Possibly, this thought should have surely criss-crossed Macron’s mind while announcing Borne’s prime ministerial appointment.
Above everything else, Macron would have seen Borne not as his competitor but as his trusted ally. Plus, Borne’s Franco-Jewish parentage reinforces Macron’s anti-racial all-inclusive outlook. Eloquently, these factors explain her nomination.
In her brief inaugural address, Borne couldn’t hide her elation as she went on to dedicate her prime ministerial nomination to girls who dare to follow their dreams. “Nothing must slow down the fight for the place of women in our society,” she declared with immense enthusiasm. The French women can expect to see Borne’s words in her actions as France’s prime doer.
Importantly, by nominating Borne to the high office, Macron has sent to the political far-extremes of our planet a strong note on the need for ideological inclusiveness, political moderation and all-round acceptance today. Viewed from this angle, Borne’s appointment carries a universal message.