France’s President Emmanuel Macron suffered a major political setback on Wednesday, following the resignation of his interior minister Gérard Collomb.
The veteran Socialist politician has built a political stronghold as the Mayor of Lyon, a position he served for 16 years.
Collomb first questioned Macron’s authority when he publically wondered about the wisdom of reducing speed limits in French secondary roads in the spring of 2018.
In the summer, relations deteriorated further when Collomb blamed Macron’s office for offering political coverage to one of the Presidential bodyguards, seen in a video roughing up anti-government protesters. As a Minister of Interior, Collomb was theoretically responsible for sanctioning Macron’s bodyguard. The matter was taken off his hands.
Finally, in an interview with BFMTV in September, Collomb pointed out that “the executive” was showing “lack of humility” in dealing with popular economic dissatisfaction.
Collomb resigned through an interview with Le Figaro, which President Macron was left with little choice by to accept. The former Interior Minister claims he wants to return to local politics, in Lyon. However, his departure is telling of a bigger political problem. Opinion polls suggest that Macron’s popularity has sunk below the level of his predecessor, Francois Hollande.
The Interior Minister portfolio has been taken over by Prime Minister Eduard Philippe. There is no obvious successor to Collomb.