03:05 GMT +313 November 2018
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    France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference he held during the 73rd session of the United Nations at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018

    Status Quo Hasn’t Changed, But Challenge for Macron is How to Deliver - Scholar

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    French President Emmanuel Macron has named Christophe Castaner as the nation's Interior Minister. The new appointment comes amid a major government reshuffle in the country.

    Radio Sputnik has discussed the reshuffle with Gino Raymond, Professor of modern French Studies at the University Of Bristol.

    Sputnik: In your view, what are the reasons behind the reshuffle in the French government?

    Gino Raymond: Well, in a way it was forced in him. There was talk that he had tried to persuade Gerard Collomb not to resign and been unsuccessful in that. So, Collomb who had been in a way Macron's mentor for some time resigned. Before that, you had another high-profile resignation in the form of Nicolas Hulot who was very much loved by the French public, a very well-known environmental campaigner.

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    He resigned suddenly, without warning Macron. So, Macron in a sense has been bounced into this. What surprised people was how long it's taken for this ministerial reshuffle to take place because a vacuum was created some time ago now by Collomb's decision; but it's taken a while for this reshuffle to take place. I think that the overwhelming reaction among ordinary French people and among commentators in France is what's really new because there's nothing radical about this reshuffle.

    Castaner is a known quantity, the person who's come in as Culture Minister, Franck Riester, is in a sense eye-catching because he is so young — he is only 29 years old. But then again, it preserves the balance of the government because he is what they call a man of the center who's prepared to work for and to work with En Marche, the majority in parliament.

    Sputnik: At last, when these choices have been made, do you feel that Macron is in a stronger, weaker or pretty much in the same position that he was prior to the reshuffle?

    Gino Raymond: I think the status quo has not fundamentally changed. The challenge that Macron faces is how to deliver. People are waiting for results, and the results aren't really happening. The unemployment level in France, there's been some improvement but it's not dramatic. It's still far too close to ten percent, so that hasn't come down substantially.

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    Macron was promising not long ago to make France the country of business angels and startups, but the French people are still waiting to hear the fruits of that. In fact, there was a piece of very bad news in the French media that Ford is going to be closing a major plant in France which will lead to the loss of 800 jobs. Macron's challenge is got to be how he is going to deliver.

    He is not delivering at home, not perceptibly. And he is not really delivering on the European stage because his principal ally, Angela Merkel, is so bogged down with her own problems in Germany.

    Sputnik: Is there hope that these new ministers will be able to perform in the wat that the former one weren't able to perform, perhaps?

    Gino Raymond: These are people who have been chosen because of their ability, because of their fidelity to the reforming program of Macron and of En Marche. The difficulty for Macron and for his government is the fact that there are external factors and influences; that whatever his ambitions are will impact on them. I mentioned the fact that the French economy seems to be running out of steam again.

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    There was a belief that things seem to be getting much better but the predictions for growth have been revised downwards. You have the influence of major investors in France like Ford who are changing their plans; and then, of course, you've got the stage of Europe where Macron had hoped to make a big impact but he can't do it alone and he relies fundamentally on his alliance with Germany and in this case Angela Merkel. So, it remains to be seen how much tangibly better things can get.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Gino Raymond and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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