Philippe’s government will continue to handle ‘day-to-day matters’ until a new government is named [File: Christian Hartmann/Reuters]
The French government led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and his government have submitted their resignations, which President Emmanuel Macron has accepted, according to the Elysee Palace.
No reason was given in the short statement issued on Friday, but a cabinet shuffle had been widely expected after Macron promised to chart a new course for the last two years of his term.
The government will continue to handle “day-to-day matters” until a new government is formed, the presidency said. The Elysee Palace later said the new prime minister was expected to be named “within hours”.
In French government reshuffles, the prime minister tenders his or her resignation before cabinet appointments but can still be renamed to the position.
It was not immediately clear whether Philippe would be called upon to form the new government.
Macron’s move to refashion his centrist government comes after voters punished the former investment banker and his party in nationwide municipal elections.
The elections revealed surging support for the Green party and underlined Macron’s troubles with left-leaning voters. The only bright spot for Macron was Philippe’s victory in the northern port city of Le Havre.
With only 21 months until the next presidential election, Macron wants to reposition himself, close advisers say.
It would be a political gamble for Macron to replace Philippe, who is more popular with the public than the president, political analysts say.
The prime minister has shown steadfast loyalty during waves of unrest and could emerge as a presidential rival in 2022.
But keeping Philippe in office could be problematic too. It could suggest that Macron was too weak to let go of his prime minister and that his young party lacked the depth to allow for a full-blooded cabinet overhaul.
Moreover, Macron poached Philippe from the centre-right opposition and holding onto him would complicate winning back leftist voters.