President Emmanuel Macron is moving to protect his government’s “reformist mojo,” clearing members of his cabinet associated with “fake jobs” scandals.
The second round of France’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, June 18, handed Macron’s La Republique En Marche (308) and his MoDem (42) allies a combined 350 seat majority in a 577-seat parliament.
Two gone, one to go
However, his defense minister Sylvie Goulard – a former Member of the European Parliament – and his minister of regional cohesion, Richard Ferrand have resigned. His European Affairs Minister, Marielle de Sarnez, is said to be the next in line.
Two of the ministers in question, Goulard and Sarnez, are members of the junior coalition partner, MoDem, while Ferrand is a former Socialist that played a key role in the transforming Macron’s “movement” into a party.
All three ministers have been embroiled in different “fake jobs scandals,” that is, handing parliamentary assistant jobs to friends, family, and party functionaries.
Ms. Goulard resigned on Tuesday, pending an investigation that she used EU funds to pay MoDem party functionaries; she described her resignation as an “act of good will.”
Mr. Richard Ferrand announced his resignation on Monday, pending an investigation not only for handing his son a lucrative job as a parliamentary assistant but also on allegations of shady business dealings while he was the director of an insurance fund.
Meanwhile, Mr. Macron has committed to a new regulation proposed by his justice minister, François Bayrou, which would ban MPs from running for office for a decade if they are found guilty of corruption, fraud, or hiring members of their family.
The lustration of the reformers
The leader of the junior coalition partner, François Bayrou, is in an awkward spot. The champion of an extensive lustration policy in French politics is not only facing allegations of political sleaze against two of his most prominent party members but could be personally embroiled in the investigation. Apparently, he phoned two journalists at Radio France to complain about their investigation.
For the moment, this potentially explosive political situation finds Macron with the luxury of a government without opposition. With the Socialist Party decimated and the Republicans split on whether to join or attack Macron, the new administration has time and leverage but also faces high expectations.