PARIS — Emmanuel Macron on Sunday named three new ministers to replace officials who left his team last week ahead of European and local election campaigns.
To succeed Nathalie Loiseau as Europe minister, the French president chose political novice Amélie de Montchalin, but also downgraded the position to the ranking of junior minister. To fill the roles of secretary of state for digital affairs and government spokesperson, Macron appointed two of his closest advisers, Cédric O and Sibeth Ndiaye respectively.
Loiseau left office to lead Macrons candidate list for the European Parliament election. The Elysée press office did not respond immediately to a query about the downgrading of the position.
Macrons decision to appoint De Montchalin to replace the seasoned technocrat came as a surprise. She is a first-term La République en Marche member of parliament and a former supporter of the traditional right. At 33, she is the majority whip of the parliaments finance committee, overseeing the national budget. She hails from a long line of farmers, but has spent her career working in financial services and insurance.
De Montchalin was pictured meeting with her predecessor Sunday night in a quick handover and told reporters: “Its a big mission to succeed Nathalie Loiseau … We must show that Europe brings concrete solutions to French people.”
De Montchalin recently told POLITICOs EU Confidential podcast she thinks it is undemocratic to finalize the EUs next seven-year budget blueprint ahead of the May European Parliament election.
“I think its a big mistake to say to people please come vote, but everything is already decided,” she said.
In O and Ndiaye, Macron chose to promote two of the earliest supporters of his presidential campaign, who have until now largely remained in the shadows. O, who was treasurer of Macrons 2017 campaign, was named secretary of state for digital affairs to replace Mounir Mahjoubi, who left the post to run for mayor of Paris. Ndiaye, Macrons press and communications adviser who also worked on his presidential campaign, was named government spokesperson and a junior minister.
Their appointments were also unexpected — advisers like them rarely take on Cabinet positions and neither has ever held elected political office before.