Appointed 30 years after Édith Cresson, the only Prime Minister between 1991 and 1992, Élisabeth Borne, who was Ségolène Royal’s chief of staff, is a member of the left wing of the macronie, an asset at a time when new reforms are announced. social, starting with “the mother of battles” on pensions.
This engineer, born April 18, 1961 in Paris, a graduate of the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and Polytechnique, a senior civil servant, defines herself as “a leftist woman” with “social justice and equality of chances” at the heart of its struggles.
The “One youth, one solution” plan
When she arrived at the Ministry of Labor in July 2020, already in the midst of a health crisis linked to Covid-19, she notably had to manage the highly contested file of unemployment insurance reform, unanimously denounced by the unions. Presented in March 2021 in a version “adapted” to the crisis, it fully entered into force in December, after having been suspended for a time.
Also to its credit, the “One young person, one solution” plan presented in July 2020 which mobilized a range of employment measures, including massive apprenticeship aid, to avoid a “sacrificed generation”. She had also inherited the explosive pension file, even if it had been put away.
A political profile, but a techno above all
This sexagenarian always dressed to the nines, often an electronic cigarette in hand – including discreetly in the hemicycle of the assemblies -, is reputed to know her files well. “More political” than her predecessor Muriel Pénicaud, according to an observer in the sector, she maintained more fluid relations with the social partners.
“Perhaps she is a little more rigorous on a certain number of things, in relations in any case”, but “the strategy is the same”, however tempered Philippe Martinez (CGT) last year.
“It’s a great techno”, recently commented another union official, who did not see it at Matignon. “If we say to ourselves that there is a need for empathy, for once, you are going a long way,” he gritted, while acknowledging that “she does not have a bad record” at the Ministry of Labor.
In the corridors of the ministries where she officiated, we recall that she was nicknamed “Born out” for her supposed harshness towards her collaborators, a play on words with “burn-out”, or exhaustion syndrome.
Elisabeth Borne had multiplied in recent months the interventions in the media to defend the action of the government, in particular the “anti-dismissal shield” of partial unemployment in the face of the crisis, or to beat the recall on teleworking in the face of Covid-19.
She herself spent several days in the hospital in March 2021 after contracting the virus, later confiding that she had had a “agonizing” experience and had been “punctually administered oxygen”.
The math bump
Before arriving on rue de Grenelle, Ms. Borne had first managed the transport portfolio in the governments of Édouard Philippe. During these two years in this position, she had gained a certain foundation by completing one of the emblematic reforms of the five-year term, that of the SNCF, and by carrying the dense law on mobility (LOM).
She then replaced François de Rugy as Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition during a reshuffle in July 2019. Elisabeth Borne had already made a stint in 2014 as chief of staff to the Minister of the Environment Ségolène Royal. The previous year, in 2013, she had been prefect of the Poitou-Charentes region, then chaired by Ms. Royal.
President of the RATP
As early as 2015, Ms. Borne had however been appointed president of the RATP, a large public transport company, a few years after having been director of strategy for the SNCF, in the early 2000s.
In a career essentially devoted to public service, notably in socialist cabinets in the 1990s, with Lionel Jospin in Education or Jack Lang in Culture, Ms. Borne also made a stint in the private sector, in charge of concessions for the Eiffage group. in 2007, before joining the City of Paris as director of urban planning.
Very discreet about her private life, having lost her “very young” father with a mother who “didn’t really have an income”, she was a pupil of the Nation, confident of having found in maths “something quite reassuring , fairly rational.
4th prime minister never to run for office
Divorced and mother of a child, she also indicated that the Jewish community was “hers”, during an interview on Radio J in June 2021. Élisabeth Borne is the fourth head of government under the Fifth Republic to no to have ever sought a mandate by universal suffrage, after Georges Pompidou, Raymond Barre and Dominique de Villepin.
If she had announced her candidacy for the legislative elections in Calvados in June, this lack of “rootedness” and a political sense deemed relative had caused the circumspection of certain caciques of the presidential majority when her name had been put forward the day after the re-election of Emmanuel Macron.
In April, in an Ifop poll, 45% of those questioned said they did not know her. But after many hypotheses, from Catherine Vautrin to Marisol Touraine, it is this faithful – “loyal, honest, hardworking and rather funny when you know her”, according to an elected official – that the head of state has chosen. With a first major challenge: to lead the battle of the legislative elections so that the macronie retains its majority in the Assembly.
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