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Gabriel Attal became France's youngest prime minister and the first openly gay

Gabriel Attal became France's youngest prime minister and the first openly gay

Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images/File

Gabriel Attal is seen in this file photo after a cabinet meeting at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, on December 12, 2023.


Paris
CNN

Gabriel Attal, France's 34-year-old education minister, has been named the country's new prime minister, a historic appointment by President Emmanuel Macron as he looks to boost his government's flagging popularity.

Attal will be the youngest ever French prime minister and the first openly gay man to hold the position – making him one of the most prominent and powerful gay politicians in the world.

Attal, a rising star in Macron's Ennahdha party, has been national minister of education and youth since July. During his term, he issued a controversial ban on wearing the abaya in French public schools and worked to raise awareness about bullying in schools.

“I know I can count on your energy and commitment,” Macron said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the announcement.

Before assuming the Ministry of Education, Atal served as Government Spokesman and then Minister of Public Works and Public Accounts. As Prime Minister, he will be charged with forming a new government and ensuring the passage of legislation that supports the president's agenda.

He replaces Elizabeth Bourne, who resigned from her position on Monday after a turbulent 20-month term marked by unpopular pension reforms and urban riots last summer. Which followed the police shooting of a teenage boy of Algerian origin.

Borne became the first female prime minister in three decades when Macron appointed her to the position In May 2022, shortly after his re-election. Then her party failed to win an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections The following monthWhich ended up frustrating her government's ability to pass new laws.

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On more than twenty occasions, Bourne has resorted to a constitutional provision that allows the government to pass bills in the House of Representatives without a vote, including raising the retirement age. Bourne's frequent use of the device led to her being accused of anti-democratic behavior, earning her the nickname “Madame 49.3”, a reference to the clause itself.

Recently, Born State Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin spearheaded a controversial immigration reform bill, which, among other things, gave local governors more power in dealing with undocumented workers while also limiting the welfare benefits they could receive. on her.

Supporters of the legislation said the proposed reforms were popular with the French public, pointing to recent opinion polls, while critics said it included too many concessions to the far right, such as restricting how citizenship can be obtained by birth. Marine Le Pen, a long-time far-right leader, called the bill an “ideological victory” for her political party.

Bourne's departure was not surprising because it came before a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle. Macron and his government are trailing in opinion polls, while Le Pen and the far right enjoy an unprecedented level of support.

The French president is likely to look for a political reset before this summer's European elections and the Olympic Games in Paris. Polls show that Attal is one of the most popular members of Macron's government.

“The road to turnover starts on June 9,” Le Pen said on X, referring to the upcoming EU vote.

CNN's Chris Liakos and Maya Saniecki contributed to this report.