French government reshuffle: Gender equality and controversy

New French Prime Minister Jean Castex. French government reshuffle: Gender equality and controversy
The new cabinet reshuffle comes after Jean Castex took over from Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister last week

The French government has completed its cabinet reshuffle under new Prime Minister Jean Castex, with 17 women and 14 men. Former interior minister Christophe Castaner is among the notable departures.

In what is being called the “second act” of President Emmanuel Macron’s administration, a new government team has been confirmed by general secretary of the 'Elysée, Alexis Kohler.

It comes after Mr Castex replaced Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister on Friday July 3.

Read more: France's new PM is man behind coronavirus reopening strategy

There are more women in the new cabinet than men, in contrast to the previous team, which had eight women and 11 men, and - including junior ministers - 20 men and 17 women.

Overall, including junior ministers, the reshuffle now means there are 14 men and 17 women.

The reshuffle has not been described as particularly surprising, as many of the main figures - including Bruno Le Maire as economy minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer as national education minister, and Olivier Veran as health minister - have remained in place.

Many of the major figures are also right-leaning politically, and despite some notable changes, political commentator Chloé Morin told news service FranceInfo that this government “has not really reinvented itself much”.

Controversy

Controversy surrounds new interior minister Gérald Darmanin - also current mayor of Tourcoing (Nord, Hauts-de-France) - after Sophie Patterson-Spatz accused him of raping her in 2009.

The case was initially dismissed in 2018, but in 2019, the court of appeal ordered it to be reconsidered. On June 9 this year, the Paris Court of Appeal resumed investigations.

But in a statement, the Élysée.said: “After judicial analysis, the relevant departments have judged that there is no obstacle to [his] nomination [for interior minister].”

His new role has drawn fierce criticism from some groups, including the feminist association #NousToutes, which has on Twitter described the government’s appointment of Mr Darmanin as “f***ing up” and "taking the p***".

The same group has also brought sexism accusations against new minister for justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti.

New ministers

There are eight new faces in the cabinet (not including Mr Castex).

  • Barbara Pompii - ecology minister, formerly president of the sustainable development commission
  • Eric Dupond-Moretti - minister for justice, replacing Nicole Belloubet
  • Roselyne Bachelot - minister for culture. Formerly part of the Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy governments.
  • Elisabeth Moreno - minister for equality between men and women, diversity and fairness
  • Alain Griset - minister for small and medium businesses, under the economy minister Bruno Le Maire
  • Brigitte Klinkert - minister for integration, under new minister for work, Elisabeth Borne
  • Nadia Hai - minister for towns
  • Brigitte Bourguignon - minister for autonomy

Departing ministers

  • Christophe Castaner - former minister of the interior
  • Didier Guillaume - former minister for agriculture
  • Nicole Belloubet - former minister for justice
  • Muriel Pénicaud - former minister for labour
  • Sibeth Ndiaye, government spokesperson, has also left her post. In a statement, her office said: “Sibeth Ndiaye has received several offers. After seven years of work, she has decided not to be part of the new government team for personal reasons.”

Ministers changing roles

  • Elisabeth Borne - from minister for ecology to minister for work
  • Gérald Darmanin - from budget minister to minister for the interior
  • Annick Girardin - from minister for overseas territories to ocean minister
  • Franck Riester - from minister for culture to a ministry post for exterior commerce and investments
  • Sébastien Lecornu - from a ministry post for local authorities, to minister of overseas territories
  • Julien Denormandie - from minister for housing to minister of agriculture and food
  • Amélie de Montchalin - from junior European affairs minister to minister for production and public service
  • Emmanuelle Wargon - from junior ecology minister to minister for housing
  • Gabriel Attal - remains as a junior minister, but is leaving the ministry of national education and youth to replace Sibeth Ndiaye as government spokesperson

Ministers staying in their position

  • Jean-Yves Le Drian - minister for foreign affairs
  • Jean-Michel Blanquer - minister for national education and youth (and also now sports)
  • Bruno Le Maire - minister for the economy (plus finance and kickstarting the economy)
  • Florence Parly - minister for the army
  • Jacqueline Gourault - minister for territorial cohesion
  • Olivier Véran - minister for health
  • Frédérique Vidal - minister for higher education
  • Marc Fesneau - junior minister for parliamentary relations
  • Jean-Baptiste Djebbari - junior minister for transport
  • Olivier Dussopt - junior minister for public accounts
  • Agnès Pannier-Runacher - junior minister for industry
  • Roxana Maracineanu - junior minister for sports (now under the authority of Jean-Michel Blanquer)
  • Geneviève Darrieussecq - junior minister for the army, in charge of memorials and veterans

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