“Acting” to “bring the country together” in the face of “unprecedented challenges”. Emmanuel Macron set the tone on Monday May 23 by opening the first council of ministers of the new government of Elisabeth Borne, in an atmosphere weighed down by accusations of rape against Damien Abad.

“The government you are forming is above all […] a government to act”, launched the Head of State, pointing to “an unprecedented context” with the Covid-19 crisis, “from which we are barely emerging if it is completely over”, the war in Ukraine and “unprecedented challenges” for French society.

“So act to bring our country together, [with] a government that looks like it,” he said in his opening speech, exceptionally broadcast, welcoming ministers from the political world and civil society.

A “government of both continuity and novelties”, assured Emmanuel Macron with, seated to his left, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, career diplomat and former spokesperson for Jacques Chirac at the Élysée. , and on his right Bruno Le Maire, reappointed to Economy and Finance and now number two in the government.

“The action that will be ours will be both to consolidate what has been done during the past five years, because a second mandate is not a mandate to redo or undo […] , and to be able to build a new action on the substance and on the form, that is to say to be able to embrace new challenges, “he hammered.

The newcomers, in a government of which a good part of the faces are very familiar (14 out of a total of 28 members were already in the government of Jean Castex), trod the gravel of the Élysée shortly before 10 a.m. under a gray sky , punctuated with a few drops. The new Minister of National Education, the academic Pap Ndiaye, crossed the steps with a slow and calm step, smiling. The only real surprise of the new executive, his appointment sparked a barrage of furious reactions from the far right, which accuses him of “wanting to deconstruct the country”.

Elisabeth Borne’s team comes on stage less than three weeks before the legislative elections of June 12 and 19. Its fate is therefore suspended at the end of the ballot which will define the new majority. Half of the members of the government (14 out of 28) are in the running and will have to leave the government if they are defeated.

Period of electoral reserve obliges, the members of the government are also forced from Monday to be very parsimony in their speeches. School, health, ecological transition but also the fight against inflation are on the menu of the government.

And “the first text examined by the new National Assembly will therefore be on purchasing power”, priority of the French, confirmed Elisabeth Borne in an interview with the Sunday newspaper. Extension of the price shield, food check, raising the index point for civil servants, abolition of the audiovisual license fee are provided for in this amending bill for the 2022 budget.

In the meantime, the executive is faced with the growing controversy over Damien Abad, ex-boss of the LR deputies in the Assembly and the main war prize of the macronie since the victory of the outgoing president on April 24. Appointed Minister of Solidarity, Autonomy and People with Disabilities, Damien Abad, himself disabled, faces serious charges of raping two women in 2010 and 2011 in an article published Saturday by Mediapart, which he denies “with the greatest force”.

Two complaints have already been closed, but justice says it is analyzing a new report from the Observatory of gender-based and sexual violence in politics. The national secretary of the PS Olivier Faure on Monday invited the Prime Minister to separate from Damien Abad, because “the word of women must be respected”.

“Élisabeth Borne should tell him that he has no place,” said ecologist Sandrine Rousseau, candidate of the New People’s Ecologist and Social Union (Nupes) in the legislative elections. “There are people who accuse, that does not mean that they are right”, on the contrary argued the former far-right presidential candidate, Éric Zemmour.

“Not aware” of these cases before their revelation by Mediapart, Elisabeth Borne promised to draw “all the consequences” in the event of “new elements” and referral to justice, during a trip to Calvados where she is seeking a first term as deputy.