French President Emmanuel Macron has named Gabriel Attal the country’s newest, youngest, and first openly gay prime minister.
Before assuming the PM position, Attal served as education minister along with several other government positions since the election of Macron in 2017. The New York Times reports that many suspect Macron’s choice of Attal is an attempt to bring a fresh and youthful perspective to the forefront for the remainder of his term as political pressure mounts from the right.
In a post on X to Attal, Macron wrote: “I know I can count on your energy and your commitment,” when working together to pass legislation.
Attal has polled as one of the most popular ministers in the French government, and during his term as education minister, he proved he had the “top-down authority Mr. Macron likes.” Though Attal and Macron are both members of France’s liberal/centrist Renaissance party, Attal’s first motions as education minister—the banning of traditional Muslim dresses in schools—gained him favor with the country’s conservative population. Attal has also imposed more severe academic measures on acceptance into France’s high schools in efforts to crack down on disciplinary practices.
The Washington Post cites these reasons for leftist disapproval of the new prime minister; a far left leader, Mathilde Panot, went so far as to call Attal “Mr. Macron Junior” referring to him as a man “who has specialized in arrogance and disdain.”
Attal’s appointment follows the resignation of former Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who stepped down following political conflict over an immigration law that reinforces the government’s power to deport foreigners. Borne spent 20 months in office battling against lawmakers to turn down Macron’s proposals for bills on labor reform and immigration, before she resigned early this week.
According to a timeline from Reuters, “Attal joined the Socialist Party when he was 17. He became a household name in French politics after being named government spokesman during the pandemic.”
Together, Macron and Attal break records as some of the youngest leaders in the French government. Macron was just 39 when he became the youngest president in French history, and now Attal will be the youngest PM at 34.
Attal is officially France’s first openly gay prime minister. His partner since 2015, Stéphane Séjourné, is a 38 year old lawyer and politician who has served in French government as the General Secretary of the Renaissance party in European Parliament.