Élisabeth Borne, el ministro francés de trabajo, ha sido nombrada primera ministra, la primera mujer en ocupar el cargo en más de 30 años y solo la segunda mujer primera ministra en la historia moderna de Francia.
“I dedicate this nomination to all the little girls in Francia, to tell them, ‘Follow your dreams’,” Borne said while taking office. “Nothing should stop the fight for women’s place in our society.”
Borne, 61, an engineer with a long career in government ministries, the senior civil service, public administration and state businesses, was chosen by Emmanuel Macron for the difficult task of delivering his complex policy promises at the start of his second term, against a background of rising inflation and the war in Ukraine.
Borne is the first French female prime minister since Édith Cresson, who briefly headed the cabinet from May 1991 to April 1992 under the Socialist president François Mitterrand.
“It’s more than time,” Cresson told BFMTV when asked how it felt to see a second woman head the government.
Cresson had warned this weekend that French politics remained “macho”. Un total de 74% of French people said they wanted a female prime minister, according to an Ifop poll this weekend. Macron, whose government had featured equal numbers of women and men, had nonetheless been accused of surrounding himself with a mainly male group of advisers and confidants.
Borne’s first task is to manage the different political factions of Macron’s centrist grouping who need to win a parliamentary majority in elections next month if Macron is to have a free hand for his planned overhaul of pensions and the welfare state.
If Macron wins a majority, from this summer, Borne must extend caps on energy prices and introduce further measures to address voters’ concerns about making ends meet amid the cost of living crisis. She is then tasked with leading Macron’s unpopular plans to push back the pension age from 62 to either 64 o 65, which are expected to spark trade union opposition and street protests. Borne will also be given a new brief of overseeing what Macron has promised will be a radical new form of “green planning” to limit carbon emissions and boost environment policy.
Borne is a faithful Macron supporter who held three key ministerial jobs during his first term: transport, environment and labour. She earned a reputation for taking on difficult policies and pushing them through, including Macron’s sweeping reforms to the state rail system, which triggered the biggest strikes in decades. The Macron ally Christophe Castaner had nicknamed the straight-talking Borne “minister of impossible reforms made possible”.
Macron, 44, registered a solid victory in last month’s presidential election against the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, winning by 58.5% to Le Pen’s 41.5%. But he acknowledged that many French people, particularly on the left, had voted for him to keep out the far right. He has promised to change his top-down, centralised way of doing politics and consult more, broadening his base.
Borne, who was in government for the whole of Macron’s first term, symbolises continuity. Macron’s opponents were quick to attack her appointment. Le Pen, who is running for re-election to parliament, dicho: “Emmanuel Macron has shown his incapacity to unite people and the will to continue his politics of looking down on people, deconstructing the state and wrecking the social [security system], of fiscal rackets and laxism.” The radical left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon tweeted that Borne’s appointment meant “the continuity of the president’s policies”. He tweeted: “A new season of social and environmental mistreatment begins.”
Borne’s personal background on the centre left is crucial for Macron, particularly in the run-up to the parliament elections. In his first term, Macron – whose project was described as “neither right nor left” when he won the presidency in 2017 – had appointed two prime ministers from the right. He is under pressure to win back voters on the centre left in the parliamentary elections.
Mélenchon recently persuaded the Socialist, Communist and Green parties to enter an alliance under his leadership for the parliamentary elections, that unites the left around a common platform for the first time in decades. The left is seeking to increase its seats in parliament.
Borne’s long career has included advising key ministers under the Socialist presidents Mitterrand and François Hollande as well as working in Paris city hall when it was run by the Socialist Bertrand Delanoë.
She never joined the Socialist party, and she is the first of Macron’s prime ministers to be a card-carrying member of his centrist party, which was recently renamed Renaissance.
Borne has described being personally driven by efficiency, rather than hogging the limelight. "Para mí, doing politics is not about getting people to talk about me at any price, it’s about dedicating myself to delivering projects in the service of my country,” she told France Inter radio last year. “Politics is not about pushing myself to the front of stage.”