Home Local Reopening strategist Castex named new Prime Minister

Reopening strategist Castex named new Prime Minister

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PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appointed Jean Castex, who coordinated the strategy to reopen the virus from France, as the country’s new Prime Minister as the country focuses on reviving an economy hard hit by the pandemic and months of strict lockdown.

The relatively understated Castex replaces Edouard Philippe, who resigned earlier today as Macron reshuffled the government to change course for the remaining two years of his term.

Macron, who says he wants a “new path” for the remaining two years of his mandate, has chosen a new face to address social and economic issues amid the country’s recovery efforts.

Castex, 55, is a career public servant who has worked with several governments but never as a minister. France’s gradual reopening plan has so far been seen as largely successful.

Conservative, Castex started a local political career in 2008 in the small town of Prades, in the south of France, where he was re-elected mayor in March with the support of the Republican Party.

He notably worked as assistant secretary general to the presidency under former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011-2012.

Castex is also considered an expert in social affairs and health policy, two topics that will be on the agenda for the next few months.

Many members of the government should be replaced during the next reshuffle.

Macron, a 42-year-old centrist, seeks balance between ministers from the right and left, as well as centrist allies and the private sector.

The reshuffle comes days after a green wave swept across France during local elections. Macron saw his young centrist party defeated in the largest cities in France and failed to establish local roots across the country.

The changes were planned even before Sunday’s vote, as Macron’s government faced obstacles and criticism before and during the virus crisis.

As the pandemic peaked in the country in March and April, authorities were criticized for lack of masks, tests and medical supplies.

Prior to that, Macron’s pro-business policies, widely seen as favoring the wealthy, had been hampered by the economic movement of the yellow vest against perceived social injustice. This winter, weeks of strikes and street demonstrations against a plan to revise pensions disrupted the country.

In addition, Macron’s efforts to boost job creation have been wiped out by the economic and social consequences of the country’s blockade.

The government has issued a € 460 billion emergency program as part of a state-funded partial activity program, tax cuts and other financial aid for businesses, and Macron must adapt its policies because the French economy should decrease by 11% this year.

The unemployment rate, which fell from 9.2% at the start of Macron’s tenure in 2017 to 7.6% earlier this year – its lowest level since 2008 – is now expected to rise steadily.

“Our first priority will be to rebuild a strong, ecological, sovereign and united economy,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation on June 14.

He ruled out any tax increases and instead said that “working and producing more” was the answer in the midst of the bankruptcies and layoffs caused by the crisis.

He focused on creating new jobs with climate-oriented policies, including renovating old buildings and transport and greener industries.

Philippe, 49, is expected to become mayor of his hometown of Le Havre, in western France, after winning a big victory in Sunday’s vote.

Conservative, former member of the Republican party, he joined the Macron government in May 2017.

It had seen its popularity increase sharply in recent weeks, according to French polling institutes which show that many French people consider that it has done a good job in gradually easing the restrictions linked to viruses in the country and applying an emergency plan. to support the French economy.

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AP writer Angela Charlton contributed to the story.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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