France's new government announced with only one major change at the foreign ministry

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FILE - Former French Presidential political advisor Stephane Sejourne attends a ceremony the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The new government of France's youngest-ever prime minister Gabriel Attal has been announced Thursday Jan.11, 2024 with only one major change at the foreign ministry, while most high-profile government members remain unchanged. Sejourne, 38, has been named at the prestigious foreign affairs portfolio. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP, File)

PARIS – The new government of French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal was announced Thursday with only one major change at the foreign ministry, while most high-profile Cabinet members remained unchanged.

The interior, finance, defense and justice ministers remain in place, according to the French presidency's statement. The members of the government were agreed upon by the 34-year-old Attal, who is France's youngest-ever premier, and centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

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Stéphane Séjourné, 38, has been named as France's foreign affairs minister, succeeding Catherine Colonna.

Séjourné is the head of Macron’s Renaissance party and the leader of the Renew Europe group of liberal, pro-European lawmakers at the European Parliament.

He also is Attal’s ex-partner. Attal, France's first openly gay prime minister, made their relationship public when he first joined Macron’s government in 2018.

The two men never publicly confirmed their breakup, but in his October declaration to the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life, which compiles declarations by high-ranking officials to record potential conflicts of interest, Attal declared having no partner.

Séjourné's arrival means no woman holds any of the top jobs at the government, despite representing half of the 14 Cabinet members appointed Thursday in line with Macron’s commitment to gender equality.

Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra keeps her job less than six months before the Paris Olympics, and also gets the education portfolio — a role previously held by Attal.

The culture ministry goes to Rachida Dati, 58, a member of the conservative party. Dati, whose outspoken personality and flashy style has made her well known among the French, was a justice minister under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Governments under Macron's presidency, since he was first elected in 2017, have included figures from both the right and the left.

But many observers saw a recent debate on an immigration bill as a symbol of the government’s shift to the right: Macron’s centrist alliance was able to pass the measure only after making a deal with the Republicans.

The new government spokesperson is Prisca Thevenot, 38, previously a junior minister in charge of the youth.

Attal was appointed Tuesda y as the head of the government, with President Emmanuel Macron seeking a fresh start for the rest of his term amid growing political pressure from the far right.

Asked about his young age as some critics point to his relative lack of experience, Attal said, “I love my country, I want to meet the expectations of my fellow citizens … and solve problems,” speaking on TF1 national television. “Of course it’s difficult. … I feel ready to do it.”

“What I want is: action, action, action. Results, results, results,” Attal insisted.

One major obstacle remains in his path: Macron’s centrist alliance lost its majority in parliament in 2022, forcing the government into political maneuvering and using special constitutional powers to be able to pass laws.

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