French President Emmanuel Macron appoints Jean Castex as new prime minister after government reigns

In this file photo, taken on May 19, 2020, the then-inter-ministerial delegate for lockdown easing Jean Castex is seen leaving after a videoconference with the French President and French mayors at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (By AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appointed Jean Castex to replace Eduoard Philippe as prime minister.

Castex is a senior civil servant who has held several posts in local, regional, and national governments. In April, he was charged with managing the easing of France's lockdown during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Earlier, Philippe resigned along with the rest of the French government.

The move paves the way for a government reshuffle, which was widely expected as French President Emmanuel Macron seeks to boost his credentials with disillusioned voters. Macron aims to reorient his final two years in office.

The rest of the government is expected to be named by Wednesday.
On Sunday, Macron's centrist political party En Marche collapsed in municipal elections across the country. Although Macron enjoys popularity at the European level, his image domestically has suffered from a series of setbacks, including the yellow vest protests and labor reforms.

Macron's 'new path'

The French presidency said Macron and Philippe had agreed that a new government was required to form a "new path" forward.

"I will need to make choices to lead [France] down that path," Macron said. He praised Philippe's "outstanding work" during his time in government.

In April, Macron said he wanted to "reinvent" himself to meet the latest challenges facing the French republic. But tackling the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic is likely to take center stage for the rest of his presidential term.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are spearheading plans to establish a European recovery program for the EU's hardest-hit countries. However, even those efforts have faced resistance among EU member states that fear pulling debt as part of a recovery fund.

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