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At 34, Gabriel Attal becomes France's youngest and first openly gay PM as Emmanuel Macron seeks reset

At the age of 34, Attal becomes the youngest prime minister in modern French history, surpassing the previous record held by Socialist Laurent Fabius, who was 37 when appointed in 1984 by François Mitterrand.

At 34 Gabriel Attal becomes France's youngest PM as Emmanuel Macron seeks reset snt
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First Published Jan 9, 2024, 5:03 PM IST

French President Emmanuel Macron has chosen Gabriel Attal, the 34-year-old Education Minister, as his new prime minister in a strategic move aimed at rejuvenating his second term and enhancing his centrist party's prospects in the upcoming European Parliament elections. While this appointment may not signify a drastic political shift, it underscores Macron's determination to move past last year's unpopular reforms and address the challenges his party faces in the June EU ballot.

Replacing outgoing Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, Gabriel Attal, a close ally of Macron, gained prominence as the government spokesman during the COVID-19 pandemic. Widely recognized for his communication skills and political acumen, Attal is set to become France's youngest prime minister and the first openly gay individual to hold the position. At the age of 34, Attal becomes the youngest prime minister in modern French history, surpassing the previous record held by Socialist Laurent Fabius, who was 37 when appointed in 1984 by François Mitterrand.  This appointment reflects Macron's intent to inject fresh energy into his administration and appeal to a broader audience.

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With opinion polls indicating a significant gap between Macron's camp and far-right leader Marine Le Pen's party, the president aims to turn the tide by presenting a dynamic and diverse leadership. The move comes after Macron faced criticism for last year's contentious pension and immigration reforms, which contributed to a decline in his approval ratings. The June EU elections now serve as a crucial battleground for Macron to regain political momentum.

Analysts draw parallels between Attal and Macron's initial rise to power in 2017, emphasizing Attal's clarity, authority, and popularity among the French populace. Attal's track record as a successful minister, adept at navigating media and parliamentary settings, positions him as a valuable asset to the Macron administration. Together, Macron and Attal represent a new leadership duo that supporters believe can bring a fresh perspective and vitality to the government.

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While Attal is hailed as one of the country's most popular politicians, skepticism persists among opposition leaders who doubt a substantial departure from existing policies. Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure expressed his skepticism, asserting that regardless of the prime minister's identity, the policies would likely remain unchanged, with Macron still wielding considerable decision-making authority.

Emmanuel Macron's appointment of Gabriel Attal as prime minister reflects a strategic move to revitalize his administration and bolster the chances of his centrist party in the upcoming European Parliament elections. Attal's youth, communication skills, and historic status as the first openly gay prime minister contribute to the narrative of a renewed leadership that Macron hopes will resonate with the French electorate. As the Macron-Attal duo takes the helm, the success of their collaboration will be closely watched both domestically and on the European stage.

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