COULISSES. Appoint a figure from the right, promote a loyal supporter or keep Elisabeth Borne… The scenarios on the table for the head of state.
Since the beginning of June, maneuvering for a possible reshuffle has intensified, with the aim of settling the pension battle. Majority leaders have been showering Emmanuel Macron with notes and proposing ready-made castings, while Elysée General Secretary Alexis Kohler has been sounding out key ministers on their intentions. From a strictly calendar point of view, several options are open to the Head of State: modify his executive by the end of his “100 days” period, i.e. before July 14, wait until the results of the senatorial elections at the end of September, or turn everything upside down after the budget period in winter, or even wait until the end of the Olympic Games in September 2024.
Yet more and more of his inner circle are warning him of the dangers and slow poison of a weak, demonetized executive, which would ruin his five-year term. “We need to become more efficient, more politically coherent and more politically focused,” pleads a feathered leader of the majority. “The whole system is out of breath”, describes a figure from the Palais-Bourbon more bluntly, while another compares the executive to a “movie set”. The President observes everyone’s agitation, taking care not to reveal his game. Rumors of a reshuffle are out of the question. He’s focused on his reindustrialization sequence, on the international stage with the summit on global finance organized in Paris at the end of June, and his visit to Germany at the beginning of July,” says an insider. He wants to get his head above water before worrying about his government. He doesn’t give a damn about all these negotiations…”. Who’s pushing what? What are the different scenarios, their advantages, their drawbacks? While we wait for the final decision, we take a closer look at the three options Emmanuel Macron has to choose from.
Appoint a right-wing Prime Minister to form a coalition with LR
It’s a scheme long advocated by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy: consolidate a majority in the Assembly with Les Républicains deputies by appointing a right-wing figure to Matignon, and thus formalize a government agreement with Éric Ciotti’s party, which would immediately enable a law on immigration to be passed. When Emmanuel Macron was re-elected, it was in fact the president of Greater Reims, Catherine Vautrin, a Sarkozyste, who was tipped to become Prime Minister, before the head of state preferred Élisabeth Borne at the last minute. Lately, the former president has been particularly active, receiving in his rue de Miromesnil office all the influential figures on the right and in the Macronie movement. L’Express even revealed on Monday that Nicolas Sarkozy met with Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace on June 6. “Nicolas Sarkozy considers that if there is no agreement with LR, LR will end up imposing it on us. In the long term, he anticipates a motion of censure from the group”, confides a strategist. “LR is making us dance and complicating the reshuffle equation. We’ve got a gun to our heads, because it could end in forced cohabitation”, says Loïc Signor, spokesman for Renaissance.
There are fewer differences between Renaissance and the LR than between Lionel Jospin and Jacques Chirac or Édouard Balladur and François Mitterrand.
A Renaissance MP
Even if the scenario of a coalition signals the end of the “at the same time” and the overcoming of cleavages dear to the President, it has to be said that it is increasingly appealing even within the majority, where the idea of a government with, for example, Gérard Larcher at Matignon and Éric Ciotti at Beauvau, in the name of pragmatism, is no longer frightening. “We need to regain control, buy ourselves some clarity and stability for the next four years, and prepare for what’s to come, to avoid the Rassemblement National coming to power in 2027. If the price we have to pay is a LR Prime Minister, then that’s what we have to do. There are fewer differences between Renaissance and the LR than between Lionel Jospin and Jacques Chirac, or Édouard Balladur and François Mitterrand”, confided one elected member of the majority, a historic Macronist yet not really classified as right-wing, in recent days. The problem is that part of the left wing of Renaissance and the MoDem are opposed to the idea, arguing that it would be tantamount to cohabitation and “handing over the keys to the truck” to a political party that weighed less than 5% in the presidential election. And who can imagine Aurore Bergé, leader of the Renaissance deputies, introducing Gérard Larcher as the new Prime Minister at a group meeting? In an attempt to forge a more minimalist rapprochement with the right, or to send out “signs of openness”, the possibility of Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, being promoted to Matignon cannot be ruled out. The same goes for Gérald Darmanin, even if the Beauvau boss has the disadvantage of wanting to be President of the Republic and suffering from a poor image.