Smashing promotion or poisoned gift? Gabriel Attal, 34, arrives in Matignon, like a political meteorite, to relaunch a mired Macronian five-year term. If the post of Prime Minister has never been a sinecure since the advent of the Fifth Republic, in recent years it has often had a slight taste of hell for the “lucky” elected officials. The ambitious and popular Attal, barely appointed Minister of Education, takes over from Élisabeth Borne burned by the marathon pensions and immigration laws, herself called to the front in order to turn the page on Jean Castex. There are three years left before the next elections. Never has the far right been so well placed in the polls to conquer the Élysée. Certainly, the most Macronian of the Macronians rose to the top of the French political figures in December. But doesn’t he run the risk of burning out before he can even prove his stature as a statesman? Not to mention the enormous National Education project, once again delivered to the waltz of moroccos…
Already, during his interview of December 20, 2023 on France 5, Emmanuel Macron, discussing education issues, had praised the “energy” and “courage” of his minister from rue de Grenelle. While the faithful from the first hour have disappeared from the political scene or are tempted to return to their original fold – most often on the right, Gabriel Attal seemed the only one capable of still embodying the Macronian “at the same time”. Based in Matignon, he will therefore have the heavy responsibility of convincing Emmanuel Macron’s voters that a policy going beyond the good old left-right divide in favor of pragmatism and consensus is still possible.
Like the president, the new prime minister comes from the left. Formerly of the “Poitiers gang”, these young people from the right wing of the PS who supported Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he participated in François Hollande’s campaign in 2012 before, like his former comrades, he joined Strausskahnians, serving the En Marche candidate in 2016. Furthermore – another distinctive sign of Macronism – he appeals to the right. Major elected officials from the opposition shower him with praise. As for LR voters, they appreciate his firm speech and the attention he pays to the good management of state finances, highlighted during his time at the Ministry of Public Accounts. “My concern is not to pursue right or left politics. But to respond to the legitimate concerns of (the) large middle class,” the person concerned recently declared to The Obs.
However, some criticize him for his lack of ideological backbone. According to the former first secretary of the PS Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who knew him when he was starting out with the Minister of Health Marisol Tourraine, the new host of Matignon especially tends to see in the great systems of thought “a straightjacket”. And then, “the doctrine, the convictions, he has time to form them,” said last December at Pilgrim Bernard Gauduchau (UDI) the mayor of Vanves, where Gabriel Attal is an opposition municipal councilor. The new prime minister will have to step up his pace. What Elisabeth Borne’s successor does not lack, on the other hand, is political intuition. Cambadélis describes a man “representative of the new generation of managers, a “coms” technician with a very good “sense of the moment”.” Example: as Minister of Education, “he did not start by talking about educational innovation,” notes the former PS tenor, “but he focused on republican values and respect for authority. ” Much more general public.
Mastery of codes
Having a “sense of the moment” also involves knowing how to talk about yourself wisely. And there, Gabriel Attal has no lessons to learn from anyone. In November 2023, to support his anti-harassment plan, the minister dares to make an intimate confession in front of the TF1 cameras. He testifies that he himself was a victim, in college, of the scourge that he fights today. It tells the story of how a former classmate, now a lawyer, revealed his homosexuality against his will. The opportunity to reflect his mixed religious origins – Jewish through his father, Orthodox Christian through his mother. Everyone agrees: the one who becomes the youngest tenant of Matignon under the Fifth Republic masters all the codes of television and networks – social, or relational. Since his time at Bercy, he has worked alongside big bosses like Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH or Yannick Bolloré, at the head of the Havas group. He also has many friends in the world of showbiz and television, such as Denis Brogniart, the presenter of Koh-Lanta on TF1. Who says he is impressed by his “great serenity”, “his calm which does not exclude passion”, “lucidity about what he has to experience”. Gabriel Attal remained “very attached to his family, his mother, his sisters”, assures the host. His father Yves, a film producer, died when his son was only 26 years old.
Is so much interpersonal skills enough to make him ambitious without depth? A “communication agency on legs” as some detractors portray it? “Those who criticize his qualities as a communicator are those who themselves lack them,” Marisol Touraine corrects. “Communication is not sufficient but it is necessary. This has allowed him to create a space for political action.” At the Ministry of Education, as well as at that of Public Accounts, he was able to test his method: identification of the problem, development of a solution and rapid implementation. Because political sense, which is essential, is not enough: the speed of execution and the ability to move forward on all fronts are essential to make an impact on opinion. The former socialist is engaged in a skillful and perpetual war of movement. In this too, he is very Macronian.
“What matters for him is the effectiveness of his policy,” insists Marisol Touraine. And the former minister cited the wearing of the abaya: “He gave a strong and firm speech. Today, the subject is no longer in the public debate, he has achieved his objective.” The next stage has begun: experimenting with the uniform in certain establishments. “In terms of education, he thinks that we need a more efficient, fairer school system,” continues the former Minister of Health. Not without courage, Gabriel Attal did not allow himself to be intimidated at Rue de Grenelle by the procrastination of the teaching staff on the level groups in college and decided that they would see the light of day from the start of the 2024 school year. From his time at Bercy, he also knew how to seize opportunities by tackling head-on the most stinging problems for public opinion – tax and social security fraud, in particular. In short, on all subjects, Gabriel Attal “took his risk”, as they say. Even if it means incurring demagoguery trials. Scientific studies show that grade repetition has uncertain effectiveness? Regardless, it is popular in the polls, so the ex-minister is relaunching the debate and promises that teachers will now have the last word.
Emmanuel Macron congratulated himself, in his last television interview, on having “emerged talents” who could find themselves, in the future, at the head of “big cities”. We were talking about Gabriel Attal for Paris City Hall. This was to underestimate the destiny – and the conquering spirit – of the young leader of Macronie.