Has Macron promoted his own assassins? (Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, January 15, 2024, UnHerd)

This week’s French government reshuffle started in the usual endogamous Macron style, more like parthenogenesis than politics, with the nomination of the president’s “mini-me”, the 34-year-old Gabriel Attal, as his fourth PM in seven years. It ended with a dead cat slammed down on the Cabinet Room table yesterday: the arrival of the take-no-prisoners, Sarkozy-baby Rachida Dati as Minister of Culture, a job once held by the Nobel Prize winner André Malraux. A French-Moroccan national, Dati was Sarkozy’s Minister of Justice and party enforcer, blunt-spoken and an enemy of nuance. The daughter of a builder and a charwoman, with a lively personal life and a taste for Dior dresses and high heels, she made as many enemies as friends in a party not terribly keen on diversity.

That party, Les Républicains, now a sad rump that will struggle to poll 7% in June’s European elections, promptly expelled her. It won’t change her trajectory: a mediocre MEP in opposition, she has flourished as mayor of Paris’s posh 7th Arrondissement, where, from early misgivings at her flamboyance, the constituents have now become her biggest fans. The general opinion is that Dati, the consummate retail politician, gets things done: the streets are clean, the schools work, no letter goes unanswered. The 7th was the first Paris Mairie to provide Covid vaccinations, and Dati said no Paris resident from any neighbourhood would be turned away, enraging the hapless City Mayor Anne Hidalgo, whose job she is shooting for in 2026. Being the pepper and salt in an Attal Cabinet smooths her path towards that goal, just as it suits Emmanuel Macron, who courted her himself this week.