During a private ceremony, French President Emmanuel Macron presented the insignia of Commander of the National Order of Merit to European Central Bank leader Christine Lagarde, Le Figaro reports.
The ceremony, which numbered about forty people, took place on Wednesday February 9th in the winter garden of the Élysée Palace. The distinction Lagarde received for her “contribution to the renown of France” comes a few days after former president Nicolas Sarkozy suggested the idea to make her the future Prime Minister, in the event of Macron’s re-election. She would thereby replace Jean Castex. The close proximity of these two events have fuelled speculation as to what Macron’s intentions are. A minister within his entourage however told BFM TV that what Sarkozy says “does not mean anything,” that “they do not care,” and that some don’t see Lagarde assuming that role “in any case.”
Lagarde herself has also never shown interest in such a career switch either. During a recent radio interview on France Inter in January, Lagarde pledged her loyalty to the European Central Bank: “I have a job, I have a function. I’m in Frankfurt [the seat of the ECB] until 2027. I don’t intend to give up along the way, so … There are other people so much more competent to do the job so I try to concentrate on what I have to do.” Yet, perhaps she might still be persuaded. Macron and Lagarde are known to be in regular dialogue with each other, with a recent focus on a recovery plan for a post COVID-19 future.
Less than two months before the presidential election, Macron has not yet formally announced he would run. Should he decide to, Lagarde might prove a valuable political ally, if not source of counsel. If elected, he would hold the office for another, and final, five-year term.