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Government reshuffle

France names new cabinet with surprises at justice and interior ministries

Secretary General of the Elysee Palace Alexis Kohler announces the names of the ministers of the new cabinet in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris, France.
Secretary General of the Elysee Palace Alexis Kohler announces the names of the ministers of the new cabinet in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. REUTERS - BENOIT TESSIER

The French presidential palace on Monday revealed the names of its revamped government under new Prime Minister Jean Castex, with big surprises at the interior and justice ministry.

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The full line-up of government ministers following President Emmanuel Macron's reshuffle has been released and is complete with new promotions and departures.

Who got promoted?

Gérald Darmanin, until now budget minister, replaces Christophe Castaner as interior minister. Darmanin's promotion however has not gone down well with feminists, who have been quick to point out that the new interior minister is facing allegations of rape.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, a criminal lawyer who has defended personalities such as Abdelkader Merah, the brother of terrorist Mohamed Merah, business tycoon Bernard Tapie, and more recently right-wing mayor Patrick Balkany, takes over from Nicole Belloubet as the new justice minister.

French lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti addresses journalists in this file photo. The charismatic figure played his own role on stage. On Monday he was appointed France's new justice minister.
French lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti addresses journalists in this file photo. The charismatic figure played his own role on stage. On Monday he was appointed France's new justice minister. AFP - ROMAIN LAFABREGUE

Moretti, renowned for getting his clients acquitted, has been very critical of the justice system and the police and recently wrote an op-ed letter stating that "a police officer who commits a racist act must have his uniform immediately removed."

Barbara Pompili, a former member of France's green party, is the new environment minister in place of Elisabeth Borne. She comes from a mining family and has said that growing up in this environment opened her eyes to the necessity to plan for an ecological transition.

The environment ministry is now listed as one of the top portfolios. President Macron is keen to tap into the wave of popularity expressed for Green parties in local voting last month.

Rosélyne Bachelot, a former minister under right-wing leaders Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, returns to government as minister of culture, taking over from Franck Riester. After 8 years away from the limelight, the 73-year-old, who has been very vocal on the Covid-19 crisis, describes herself as a passionate music fan.

Elisabeth Moreno makes her debut entry into government as minister of state for gender equality, in place of Marlène Schiappa who becomes deputy minister to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Who is staying put?

Despite lots of speculation before the reshuffle, the great offices of state remain untouched, with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire safe to steer the economy through its worst crisis since World War II. Le Maire will do so under a new title of minister of finance and recovery.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Defence Minister Florence Parly are also staying put.

Who is out?

Muriel Penicaud, up until now the work minister has been replaced by Elisabeth Borne, the former environment minister who will be in charge of pushing through tough pension reforms.

Christophe Castaner, the former interior minister has been dropped after his fallout with the police who accused him of not supporting them over allegations of racism.

Nicole Belloubet, up until now the justice minister leaves a troubled ministry facing multiple challenges, including accusations it let government meddle in its affairs.

Sibeth Ndiaye, up until now the government spokesperson, Ndiaye said she preferred to leave her role due to personal and family reasons.

In total, the new line-up includes 16 ministers and 14 deputy ministers.

They are slated to meet on Tuesday for their first cabinet meeting and Act 3 of Macron's new government.

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