France’s former prime minister Edouard Philippe, a leading contender to succeed President Emmanuel Macron in 2027 elections, has opened up about a hair loss condition he says will not diminish his political ambition.
The 52-year-old politician, who spearheaded the government’s fight against the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, was a familiar face on television with his trademark brown beard.
Since leaving the post in the summer of 2020 and working as mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, his appearance has drastically changed with his hair and beard thinning and turning white suddenly.
“This is what had happened to me: I lost my eyebrows, and I don’t think they will come back,” he told BFMTV in an interview late Thursday.
“My beard has turned white, it’s falling out a bit and the hair too.
“The moustache is gone, I don’t know if it will come back, but I would be surprised,” he said.
“I have what is called alopecia,” he added, opening up about the auto-immune condition that accelerates hair loss.
He said the condition was “not painful, dangerous, contagious or serious”.
Philippe’s wry and avuncular style proved popular with many French and some speculated that his high approval ratings had caused tensions with Macron.
His personality — he writes novels and boxes fanatically in his spare time — has also sparked fascination.
He has now founded a new centrist party called Horizons that is allied with Macron’s ruling faction but also unafraid of showing an independent streak.
Some analysts see Philippe as an obvious potential successor to Macron, who must leave office after serving the maximum two terms in 2027.
And Philippe insisted that his condition would not stand in the way of his political plans.
“That doesn’t stop me from being extremely ambitious for my city,” he said referring to Le Havre.
Tellingly, he added: “It doesn’t stop me from being extremely ambitious for my country.”
With France buffeted by strikes and protests as the government seeks to push through landmark pension reform, Philippe gave his full backing to Macron for the changes.
He said he supported the changes “without ambiguity, without any bad note or any other kind of little complication”.