In search of regeneration, Macron names Gabriel Attal prime minister, France’s youngest at 34

French President Emmanuel Macron named 34-year-old Gabriel Attal as his fresh prime minister on Jan 9, wanting to provide fresh life into his second mandate ahead of European Parliament elections. Mr Attal becomes the youngest and the first to be openly gay prime minister in French history. His nomination will not definately lead to any prominent and new political shift, but shows a need by Mr Macron to attempt to move beyond 2023’s unpopular pension and immigration reforms and improve his centrist party’s opportunities in the June EU ballot.

“Dear @GabrielAttal, I know I can count on your energy and your commitment to enforce the task of revitalisation and regeneration that I announced,” Mr Macron wrote on social media platform X, previously twitter. Shorn of a working majority in Parliament, Mr Macron has battled to push through a second-term reform agenda that has drifted to the right as he wants to shore up support among conservative voters to counter the rising popularity of the far right. The president’s ruling party trails far-right governer Marine Le Pen’s party by around eight to ten percentage points in opinion polls.

Mr Macron, 46, and Mr Attal have a combined age just below that of Mr Joe Biden, who is running for a second term in this year’s United States presidential election. Mr Attal has polled as one of France’s most renowned politicians in past months. A Mr Macron loyalist, he became a household name in French politics as government spokesman during the Covid-19 pandemic and earned a reputation as a smooth communicator. Mr Attal replaces Ms Elisabeth Borne, 62, only the second woman to hold the position in France.

A persistent, sincere and hard-working technocrat, her year and a half in office was marked by months of protests over a pension overhaul and riots over the police shooting of a teenager of North African descent. Mr Macron and Mr Attal may take many days to name a fresh government. An Elysee aide said the usual Jan 10 Cabinet meeting was unlikely this week. In past weeks, Mr Macron, who has felt difficulty to handle with a more turbulent Parliament since being re-elected in 2022, had signalled that it was time for change. However, his opponents and some voters were doubtful.