Will Attal get Macron back on course?

After former French prime minister Elisabeth Borne announced her resignation earlier this week, President Emmanuel Macron has appointed the country's most popular minister, Gabriel Attal, as her successor. Europe's press asks whether Attal, 34, can put the wind back in the sails and keep Macron's boat afloat and skimming along until the next presidential elections in 2027.

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Naftemporiki (GR) /

Attal must restore the people's trust

The new prime minister must win over the middle class, emphasises Naftemporiki:

“The French president's message is that he wants to win back the younger generation. The section of the electorate that had turned its back on him. Attal himself stressed in his inaugural speech that young people are a priority and will once again be at the centre of the government's agenda. The new prime minister must also win back the trust of the middle class, which is increasingly under the sway of far-right Marine Le Pen. Especially in view of the European elections in June, which Le Pen's party is expected to win.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Youth also has its downsides

Attal's youth may not necessarily work to his advantage in the long term, L'Opinion explains:

“Everywhere in Europe, political leaders are getting younger. But this argument quickly wears thin and can backfire at the first hard blow, as many can testify. And then the same people who applauded the hero's youth soon start emphasising his lack of experience. Dynamism, ambition, and a desire for action can be seductive. Backed by solid popularity and good communication, they can be useful. But the art of governing has become so complex and the country's situation so fragile that age quickly threatens to become an excuse.”

Les Echos (FR) /

This ploy could work

Les Echos says the new prime minister has a good chance of being successful:

“Although it's hard to imagine Attal standing up to the head of state on key decisions, he knows how to play politics like no other at his age, something that has often been lacking in the Macron era. And his words will be listened to more closely than Elisabeth Borne's monotonous speeches. He will also benefit from the work she has already done in parliament: on the thorny issues of pensions and immigration. ... Emmanuel Macron has promised a return to 'overcoming' political rifts and 'boldness', which is what many disappointed Macronists from the early days have been waiting for. Beyond the effect of Tuesday's announcement, it will now be necessary to deliver on this commitment.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

For Macronism after Macron

Macron has chosen his successor, Corriere della Sera surmises:

“Unlike his relatively unknown predecessors Édouard Philippe (then mayor of Le Havre), Jean Castex (a dutiful civil servant from the Pyrénées-Orientales department) and Élisabeth Borne (an obscure labour minister), Gabriel Attal became prime minister on the crest of a wave, thanks to his activism as education minister, which since June has made him the country's most popular politician, according to polls. ... Perhaps the president no longer fears that other stars could eclipse his own, and has identified Attal as the man who could succeed him in 2027 to continue Macronism after Macron.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Times have changed

Attal will not have an easy time presenting himself as Macron 2.0, Die Welt explains:

“In 2017, Macron positioned himself in the political centre and set European pathos against the nationalism of Marine Le Pen. However, the zeitgeist has also changed in France. Only those who do not negate or contrast with the Rassemblement National's issues, but instead take them up and promise better solutions, are likely to stand a chance against Le Pen. Islamism, migration, traditional values - no candidate can ignore these topics. Macron, who has become much more conservative over the years, knows this, and the appointment of Gabriel Attal signals the understanding: here is a man who firmly defends freedom and democracy - but at the same time has a clear liberal-conservative profile.”

G4Media.ro (RO) /

Difficult conditions

G4Media.ro emphasises the subordinate role of the French prime minister to the president:

“Attal, like his predecessor, was once in the Socialist Party, but then followed the political development of his boss Emmanuel Macron and shifted towards more conservative positions. Like his predecessors, and therefore like all prime ministers of the Fifth French Republic, he will have to work under the sometimes oppressive authority of the President of the Republic - and in the absence of an absolute pro-presidential majority in the National Assembly and the growing influence of the right-wing opposition.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Possibly just a feeble stunt

Attal's position as he takes up his new post is not really any better than that of his predecessor, Le Soir agrees:

“Despite his talent, his keen sense of communication and his ability to appeal to the right even though he comes from the left, Gabriel Attal's mission does not look any easier. ... He won't have an absolute majority in the National Assembly either, and the opposition won't be any more favourable towards him. ... The best he can hope for is to offer his opponents fewer targets. ... His appointment, which was demanded by public opinion, says nothing about the hoped-for relaunch of Macron's lacklustre mandate. ... So what is it all about? Another more or less successful stunt?”