It’s a hazing she “would have done well without”: barely appointed to Matignon and with the legislative elections on the horizon, Elisabeth Borne finds herself already entangled in the Abad affair, to which are added trial and error in communication on its measures to counter inflation.
Does it all go back to Matignon? “No, only shit,” Edouard Philippe replied in his time, a good word that Ms. Borne quickly experienced.
This is how on Saturday evening, at the end of a day of campaigning in her Calvados constituency and 24 hours after the formation of her government, she became aware of the Mediapart article relaying accusations of rape against the Minister for Solidarity Damien Abad, defector from LR.
After having had to return the arrows of opposition against the new Minister of Education Pap Ndiaye, she is forced to go to the front again, just a few days after her appointment.
“We would have done well without that”, blows an adviser to the executive, who underlines that the Prime Minister “is above all a pragmatist” eager to “roll out her roadmap”.
However, the head of government is placed in a “complicated position”, by the admission of a minister, between respect for the “principle of the presumption of innocence” and “respect for the word of women”.
Ms. Borne must also face a lawsuit from which she will emerge as the loser in any case, around a question: was she aware, before entrusting a portfolio to Mr. Abad, that there were two complaints dismissed in 2012 and 2017?
No, she claims, when her cabinet simply confirms having received an email from Mediapart at the address of the Matignon press service “Friday at 7:45 p.m.”, the day before the publication of the article, without having had the time to process it.
Conversely, from concordant sources in the executive, Mr. Macron’s entourage, which includes former LRs such as political adviser Thierry Solère, was aware of these old procedures, also mentioned in an article by Closer in March 2017 that did not cite Mr. Abad.
How then to explain this lack of information from Ms. Borne concerning her own team? And this asymmetry between the Elysée and Matignon?
“Do not tell me that when you appoint a minister who has had this kind of article, the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic are not aware”, thus delighted the boss of senators LR Bruno Retailleau Wednesday on France Inter.
What may explain the obvious annoyance of Ms. Borne who received Mr. Abad on Sunday evening.
“She is not in the lace, if she has a conviction, she will not hesitate to decide”, confirms a minister. Who is also sorry for the sequence: “politically, it pollutes”.
Added to this are fluctuating announcements on the arrival of the package of measures to deal with inflation, while the subject of purchasing power is the crux of the legislative elections of June 12 and 19.
Eager to show that it wants to respond to “the emergency”, the government, through its spokesperson Olivia Grégoire, put forward the idea on Monday of a “first bill (…) adopted in the Council of ministers before the legislative elections”.
A calendar on which it was necessary to backpedal and provide details. It will ultimately be two bills – one on the measures, the other on their financing – which will be presented after the legislative elections, the executive confining itself to a simple “communication” in the Council of Ministers before the ballot.
But, reserve period obliges, “there will be no precise amount” revealed, according to a government source, but only “the philosophy, the modalities” of the measures.
Already in the storm, Ms. Borne is continuing her installation in parallel. By receiving in particular bilaterally all the social partners, including the boss of the CFDT Laurent Berger on Tuesday, foreshadowing other shocks to come with the inflammable pension reform.
On this point, there too the vagueness remains, while Mr. Macron had assured that he wanted to act quickly.
“We are going to temporize. Because there is the new method of consultation, I am not sure that it will be done right away”, slips a minister.
05/25/2022 16:34:36 – Paris (AFP) – © 2022 AFP