French interior minister to quit government by 2020
September 18 2018 12:18 PM
Gerard Collomb
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb is pictured in Paris last week.

Reuters/Paris

* Minister says he will quit Macron government to run for mayor of Lyon
* Announcement follows abrupt resignations by two ministers

France's interior minister, one of President Emmanuel Macron's closest allies, has told L'Express magazine he will run for mayor of Lyon in 2020, putting Macron's government under more pressure as it goes through a period of doubt and instability.
Gerard Collomb's announcement follows the abrupt resignations in recent weeks of a popular environment minister, who questioned Macron's commitment to the reduction of nuclear power, and a sports minister. A high-profile member of Macron's party, Republique En Marche, also quit over the weekend.
Macron's approval rating has plunged to about 30%, from around 60% shortly after he was elected in May 2017, with opinion polls showing he is regarded as lofty and unsympathetic towards people's everyday hardships.
Collomb, who recently acknowledged what he called a "lack of humility" in Macron's administration, suggested that he could stand down as soon as the middle of next year.
"I won't be interior minister up to the last minute," he told the weekly magazine in an interview.
"Ministers who want to run in the 2020 municipal elections should in my view leave the government after the European (parliament) elections," he said.
The European parliament vote takes place in May 2019.
'Ketchup moment'
Collomb, a political veteran who left the post of Lyon mayor, which he had held for some 17 years, to team up with Macron, said big election victories tended to generate a climate where leadership appeared to lose touch with voters' grievances.
"They are times when the atmosphere is rarified, where there is less listening (to voters)," said the 71-year-old, likening the current period to one he experienced when the left swept to power under Francois Mitterrand in 1981.
Opponents of the pro-business president accuse him of favouring the wealthy in his drive to inject new life into the French economy. He scrapped a wealth tax and reduced corporation tax while cutting housing allowances for the poor and raising taxes on pensions.
Macron has promised that his reforms will create growth and new jobs, but there is growing impatience among voters as unemployment hovers stubbornly around 9% and the economy expands more slowly than expected.
Collomb said Macron was stuck in a "ketchup moment": "You thump the bottom of the bottle and, for a time, nothing happens. Then comes a point when the whole lot comes out."



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