The French found out on Thursday evening that, under their new prime minister, nothing will change in the way their country is run. Gabriel Attal, the Boy Wonder who at thirty-four is the youngest premier of the Fifth Republic, unveiled his new cabinet — and there was a distinct lack of freshness. The controversial Gerald Darmanin remains as interior minister, despite the fact he has presided over unprecedented rises in crime and illegal immigration. Meanwhile, there is no change at the ministry of justice or the ministry of the economy.
The biggest talking points concern the new minister of culture, Rachida Dati, who served as minister of justice in Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right government between 2007 and 2009. In an interview in 2021, Dati was asked what she thought of Macronism. “It is an absence of ideology, of conviction,” she replied. “A party of traitors from the left and traitors from the right, which is nothing without Emmanuel Macron.” She is currently under investigation for corruption, an allegation she denies.
There won’t be any revitalization as long as Macron is president
The other surprise is the appointment of Stéphane Séjourné as foreign minister. The thirty-eight-year-old Séjourné was in a relationship with Attal for a number of years and, like his former partner, was a socialist before signing up to Macronism.
Séjourné is a Macron loyalist who has never before served in government. He replaces the experienced Catherine Colonna, sixty-seven, a former ambassador to the UK and a career diplomat, who perhaps had too much of her own mind for her president’s taste.
Macron’s intention with this “new” government is to fool the country, the majority of whom lean to the right, into believing that he is listening to them. Le Monde has fallen for his subterfuge, claiming that the president has “tilted his cabinet to the right.” Le Figaro, however, has not been tricked. “Today, Macronism is less left-wing than yesterday, but this is neither the new dawn nor the big night,” it wrote in an editorial. “It looks more like a January gimmick, a veneer of novelty that is already cracking and revealing the banality of the days of a government that has been repeating itself for seven years.”
There have been many profiles this week of France’s new prime minister, charting his meteoric political rise and speculating on how he intends to reinvigorate France. Most have been positive but there’s also been skepticism, describing Attal as a man who won’t change anything because he’s a “mini-Macron.”
One of the more interesting revelations is that Attal, like his president, is a “Young Global Leader.” As its website boasts, Young Global Leaders is “aligned with the World Economic Forum’s mission,” whose objective is to “accelerate the impact of a diverse community of responsible leaders across borders and sectors to shape a more inclusive and sustainable future.”
The initiative was set up by Klaus Schwab in the 1990s and alumni include Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, former prime ministers of New Zealand and Finland’s Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin, and former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Media old boys include Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Schwab is proud of his initiative. In an interview at Harvard in 2017 he explained how “we penetrate the cabinets” of prime ministers and presidents who are also Young Global Leaders. Schwab was particularly pleased with his work in Canada, where he claimed half of Justin Trudeau’s cabinet were “Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum.” This may have been an exaggeration: five were, and although Schwab lay claim to nurturing Trudeau himself, it isn’t clear whether he was actually a “Young Leader.” Nevertheless, Trudeau’s biography on the WEF site praises his “respect for and promotion of freedom and diversity, and a more democratic government that truly represents Canadians.”
Schwab also namechecked France as having a Young Global Leader in Emmanuel Macron. He went through the program in 2016, the same year he launched his presidential campaign.
In nominating Attal as his new prime minister, Macron said that he knows he “can count on your energy and your commitment to implement the project of revitalization and regeneration that I announced.” There won’t be any revitalization as long as Macron is president. Like Ardern, Varadkar and Trudeau, he is a committed globalist and progressive incapable of governing in any other way. Attal is just a chip off the old block. They might make Klaus Schwab proud, but they don’t inspire much affection among their own people.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.