Few people have heard of Jean CastexJul 3rd 2020AFTER WEEKS of speculation, President Emmanuel Macron has named Jean Castex as France’s new prime mi
AFTER WEEKS of speculation, President Emmanuel Macron has named Jean Castex as France’s new prime minister, replacing Edouard Philippe. To which many in France replied: Jean who? The new head of the French government is currently the centre-right mayor of Prades, a village in the Pyrenees, and a high-level civil servant who was in charge of planning France’s strategy for emerging from lockdown. Almost nobody, except the good folk of Prades, has ever heard of him.
At first glance, Mr Castex is a carbon-copy of his predecessor. Like Mr Philippe, he attended the elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA), and joined the top layer of the French civil service. Also like Mr Philippe, he hails from the centre-right Republicans party. When Nicolas Sarkozy was president, Mr Castex was his deputy chief of staff at the Elysée Palace.
Although the full shape of the new government has yet to be announced, the appointment of Mr Castex by itself is neither the tilt to the left, nor towards the Greens, that many observers were expecting. On June 28th Mr Macron’s party performed miserably at local elections while the Greens surged in big cities, the president’s natural political base. There is pressure on Mr Macron both to put greenery closer to the centre of policy-making and to keep up higher public spending on social measures after the…