Here are five things you should know about France’s new head of government.
1. You have worked on the Elysium.
Castex carries the classic profile of a high-level French civil servant, having attended the elite national school of public administration from which Macron also graduated along with most of the upper political class.
Castex was an adviser on social affairs in the cabinet of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, before becoming Undersecretary General of the Elysée in 2011, a key post that Macron himself held.
The new prime minister began his political career with conservative heavyweight Xavier Bertrand, first as chief of staff in the health ministry and then in the labor ministry in the 2000s.
2. Has experience in managing health crises.
Castex had the difficult task of coordinating the facilitation of the confinement in France, which earned him the nickname “Monsieur Déconfinement”. He is considered to have performed well and reportedly won internal battles against members of the government with whom he disagreed.
The new prime minister previously dealt with another major health crisis when he worked at the health ministry as chief of staff in 2006.
“He was the one who launched the pandemic plan during the avian flu crisis and the doctrine on state mask reserves. In other words, he knows what he is talking about! “His former boss Bertrand told Le Parisien.
3. He was not at the Macron club.
Macron first approached Castex after the 2017 elections, when the French president offered him the position of delegate at the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Macron and Edouard Philippe, whom Castex is replacing, also thought of him in 2018 to head the highly sensitive interior ministry, Le Monde reported. But this proposal did not have the support of Macron’s own party, which considered him too close to Sarkozy and opposed his nomination.
According to Le Figaro, Castex left his conservative party Les Républicains last week.
4. He is Philippe but better (or so the Elysee thinks)
Castex has qualities that were seen as lacking in Philippe, including the ability to reach the other side of the political corridor.
According to reports, it is crucial that he have a good working relationship with the main French unions, whose relations with the Elysée have been strained since Macron put a controversial pension reform on his agenda.
Former union leader Jean-Claude Mailly of Force Ouvrière once described Castex as “someone you can talk to, who is not a great leader.”
“He is a true Swiss Army knife, he has connections everywhere and he knows how to do the right thing in the right place,” Franck Louvrier, a former adviser to Sarkozy, told Le Point.
Still, the new prime minister and his predecessor have very similar profiles: they are both conservative politicians of the same generation, little known to a wider audience before his nomination. That will undoubtedly raise questions about Macron’s past promises to nominate more diverse profiles (for example, a woman).
5. He likes rugby and history.
Castex has a typical accent from southwestern France, where his grandfather also held official positions. Father of four daughters, he considers Catalan culture to be a significant influence on his life.
Her father Claude was president of a rugby club and Jean Castex used to go to games when he was young. “He was a regular follower. He was never a great athlete, but when he was young he played a lot of tennis, “his father told the local Sud-Ouest newspaper in 2010.
The politician also has a degree in history and published a book on the history of the railway line between Perpignan and Villefranche.