At the end of the round of visits by German politicians to Paris this week, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne will come to Berlin on Friday for her inaugural visit. It should ensure a good atmosphere after tensions between France and Germany.
The 61-year-old meets Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck. It was heard from circles at their official seat in Matignon that the “enthusiasm to strengthen relations between France and Germany” was important against the background of the Ukraine war.
For the first time in over 30 years, since Edith Cresson, a woman is at the head of government. Borne belongs to the left wing of Macron’s party, is considered loyal and has government experience, a “technocrat”, wrote the daily Le Figaro. The sober, pragmatic Borne could get along better with Scholz than the bubbly president. Alexis Kohler, Secretary General of the Elysee Palace, recommended her to Macron: “Everywhere she went, she left her footprint of reform.”
The politician has persistently worked her way up
Born in Paris, Borne has worked her way up the ranks. She lost her father to suicide at an early age and grew up in difficult circumstances under state care, later attending elite schools for engineering. She comes from the Socialists, worked under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Minister of Culture Jack Lang and stands for a social economic policy.
She was President of the Paris transport company RATP and recommended herself to Macron in 2017 as Minister for Transport, later for Environment and Labor. She declared that she stood for “social justice” and “equal opportunities” and demanded that she be called “Madame la Première ministre” (Madame Prime Minister).
Borne has proven her tenacity, pushed through the rail reform as transport minister and the labor market reform as labor minister. She soberly explained her method: “I was an engineer, a prefect and an entrepreneur. I believe in results, not labels.”
Borne is looking for political compromises, while in France the willingness to do so is not very pronounced. She now has to prove her ability to engage in dialogue in Berlin.
She knows: the French prime minister is a kind of lightning rod for the president: if Borne manages to create a positive dynamic, it’s a point for Macron. If Borne fails, it’s her fault.
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