French PM resigns ahead of cabinet overhaul, Borne seen taking job

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French Prime Minister Jean Castex leaves after addressing media on 3 October 2020, following heavy rains and brutal floods.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex leaves after addressing media on 3 October 2020, following heavy rains and brutal floods.
PHOTO: Valery Hache/AFP

French Prime Minister Jean Castex handed his resignation to President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, paving the way for a long-awaited cabinet overhaul and the likely appointment of the second woman to the job in 30 years.

Macron - who was re-elected in April and needs to show he has heard the frustrations of voters expressed in low turnout and big support for the radical far-right and far-left - has said he is looking for a premier with green and social policy credentials.

His allies have said he will most likely appoint a woman, who would be the first since Edith Cresson briefly occupied the job during the presidency of Socialist leader Francois Mitterrand in the early 1990s.

Current Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne, 61, is widely expected to get the job. A soft-spoken career bureaucrat who before joining Macron's government served numerous Socialist Party ministers, Borne had a brief stint as environment minister in 2019 - when she pushed through bicycle-friendly policies

She then took charge of the Labour Ministry and oversaw negotiations with unions that resulted in a cut to unemployment benefits for some job seekers.

Such a profile could help counter the challenge mounted by hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon who reached a strong third place in the presidential election, allowing him to rally a broad coalition of France's left-leaning parties in the June 12-19 parliamentary vote.

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