Gabriel Attal has been named France’s next prime minister, as Emmanuel Macron aims to revive his presidency with a new government.
At 34, he is the youngest PM in modern French history, outranking even Socialist Laurent Fabius who was 37 when he was appointed by François Mitterrand in 1984.
Mr Attal replaces Élisabeth Borne, who resigned after 20 months in office.
Throughout that time she struggled with a lack of a majority in parliament.
Gabriel Attal, who is currently education minister, certainly makes an eye-catching appointment.
He will now have the task of leading the French government into important European Parliament elections in June.
His rise has been rapid. Ten years ago he was an obscure adviser in the health ministry, and a card-carrying member of the Socialists.
He will also be the first openly gay occupant of Hôtel Matignon. He has a civil partnership with another Macron whizz-kid, the MEP Stéphane Sejourné.
In 2018, Gabriel Attal was given the role of deputy minister in the education department
But given the difficulties of the president’s second term – and the growing challenge from the nationalist right – is “eye-catching” alone going to cut it?
Handsome, youthful, charming, popular, cogent, Mr Attal certainly comes to office trailing clouds of glory – much, let it be said, like his mentor and role-model the president himself.
But like many go-getters of his generation, he was inspired by Emmanuel Macron’s idea of breaking apart the old left-right divide and re-writing the codes of French politics.
In the wake of Macron’s 2017 election, Mr Attal became a member of parliament, and it was there that his brilliance as a debater – easily the best of the neophyte Macronite intake – brought him to the president’s attention.
At 29, he became the youngest ever minister in the Fifth Republic with a junior post at education; from 2020 he was government spokesman and his face began to register with the voters; after President Macron’s re-election, he was briefly budget minister and then took over at education last July.
It was in this post that Mr Attal confirmed to the president that he has what it takes, acting with no-nonsense determination to end September’s row over Muslim abaya robes by simply banning them in schools.
He led a campaign against bullying – he himself was a victim, he says – at the elite École alsacienne in Paris, and took on the education establishment with his proposal to experiment with school uniform.