French President Emmanuel Macron has named Jean Castex, who coordinated France’s reopening strategy after the coronavirus lockdown, as the country’s new prime minister, according to the Elysee Palace.
The relatively low-profile Castex replaces Edouard Philippe, who resigned earlier on Friday. Macron is reshuffling the government to focus on restarting the economy after months of lockdown.
Castex, 55, is a career public servant who has worked with multiple governments. France’s gradual reopening plan has been seen as generally successful so far.
Many government members are expected to be replaced in the reshuffle.
Macron’s move to refashion his centrist government comes after voters punished the former investment banker and his party in nationwide municipal elections.
The elections revealed surging support for the Green party and underlined Macron’s troubles with left-leaning voters. The only bright spot for Macron was Philippe’s victory in the northern port city of Le Havre.
With only 21 months until the next presidential election, Macron wants to reposition himself, close advisers say.
It is a political gamble for Macron to replace Philippe, who is more popular with the public than the president, political analysts say.
Philippe has shown steadfast loyalty during waves of unrest and could emerge as a presidential rival in 2022.