French prime minister resigns following recent political turmoil over immigration

Elisabeth Borne’s resignation followed the passage last month of immigration legislation backed by Macron aimed at strengthening the government’s ability to deport some foreigners

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron flanked by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivers his speech on the eve of Bastille Day, in Paris, France, 13 July 2023.TERESA SUAREZ (EFE)

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne resigned Monday following recent political turmoil over a new immigration law, paving the way for President Emmanuel Macron to seek fresh momentum by appointing a new government in coming days.

The shakeup was widely seen as an attempt by the 46-year-old centrist Macron to head off a looming lame-duck status. Macron’s term is to end in 2027, and he won’t be able to run again for president in line with the French Constitution.

In her resignation letter, Borne suggested she resigned at Macron’s request, citing the president’s “will” to “appoint a new prime minister.”

Borne’s resignation followed the passage late last month of contentious immigration legislation backed by Macron aimed at strengthening the government’s ability to deport some foreigners, among other measures.

Macron’s centrist alliance was able to pass the measure only after making a deal with the conservative Republicans party, which many observers saw as the government’s shift to the right. The tough negotiations and heated parliament debate raised questions over the ability of Borne’s government to pass future major bills.

Political observers also suggested that Macron, a staunch supporter of European integration, wants his new government to get ready for June’s European Union elections.

Borne, 62, had been appointed in May 2022 after Macron’s reelection for a second term. She was France’s second female prime minister.

The following month, Macron’s centrists lost their majority in parliament, forcing the government into political maneuvering and using special constitutional powers to be able to pass laws.

Last year, Borne faced mass protests often marred by violence against unpopular pension changes. The bill to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 was enacted into law in April, angering many people across the country.

She also faced days of riots which erupted across France at the beginning of the summer, triggered by the deadly police shooting of a teen.

Macron’s office announced his acceptance of Borne’s resignation in a statement, and the president posted on X, formerly Twitter, that Borne’s work “has been exemplary every day.”

“You have implemented our project with statewomen’s courage, commitment and determination. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he wrote.

The statement from Macron’s office said Borne will continue in her duties until a new government is appointed.

Under the French political system, the prime minister is appointed by the president and accountable to the parliament. The prime minister is in charge of implementing domestic policy and coordinating the government’s team of ministers.

The president holds substantial powers over foreign policy, European affairs and defense. He is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.

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