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Doomed to succeed: Cornelia Woll and Yann Wernert discuss the new French government in joint Handelsblatt and Tagesspiegel op-ed

“If Emmanuel Macron does not want to become a lame duck, it must be clear where he wants to go,” the Hertie School President and the Policy Fellow at the Jacques Delors Centre write.

Following the resignation of Élisabeth Borne, French President Emmanuel Macron appointed his new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to office on 11 February. In an op-ed published in both Handelsblatt and Tagesspiegel on 18 January, Hertie School President Cornelia Woll and Jacques Delors Centre Policy Fellow Dr Yann Wernert discuss the prospects of France’s youngest prime minister in history, as well as those of the French President himself.

“After a difficult debate on immigration, Macron wants to create a new dynamic in the European election year and is capitalising on Attal's popularity to do so,” the experts on French politics write. But despite his popularity, both are sceptical that Attal will provide any solutions to Macron’s problems – one of the most significant ones being the struggle to find political majorities. “If Emmanuel Macron does not want to become a lame duck, it must be clear where he wants to go and who will carry on his legacy,” Woll and Wernert write. 

The European elections will be a first test

The new French government will experience its first test when Europe goes to the polls in June. A clear win for the far right would be a major blow for Macron, say Woll and Wernert. And a French government that is busy with its own problems would be a disaster for the EU, they add. For this reason, they argue that “Attal is doomed to succeed. He must manage to unite the centre of society against the far right. Whether he can fulfil this Herculean task will soon become clear – and will be felt in Europe."

Read the full op-ed in German in Handelsblatt.

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Our experts

  • Cornelia Woll, President and Professor of International Political Economy
  • Yann Wernert, Senior Policy Fellow, Jacques Delors Centre