France’s Macron names Republican Philippe as PM

Edouard Philippe file picEdouard Philippe has for years been close to leading Republican Alain Juppé

President Emmanuel Macron has chosen centre-right mayor Edouard Philippe as France’s new prime minister.

Mr Philippe, 46, is not from the president’s new centrist party but from the centre-right Republicans.

The choice is seen as an attempt to draw in key figures from both the right and left of French politics.

The announcement forms part of a busy first day for the president – he travels to Germany shortly to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The naming of a new prime minister, Mr Macron’s first big appointment, came after hours of fevered speculation in France.

Already tipped as favourite for the job, Edouard Philippe, mayor of the northern port city of Le Havre, has long been close to Alain Juppé, who was runner-up in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in November 2016. Responding to the announcement, Mr Juppé praised the new prime minister as a man of “great talent”.

President Macron faces crucial parliamentary elections next month and may need the support of the centre right to push through his planned economic reforms.

Mr Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker and economy minister, was inaugurated on Sunday in a ceremony at the Elysée Palace.

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His new party, La République en Marche (Republic on the move), announced last week a list of 428 candidates for June’s elections, half of whom were women. Only 5% were MPs in the outgoing French parliament – and those MPs were all from the Socialist left.

The staunchly pro-EU president’s meeting with Chancellor Merkel is eagerly awaited in Berlin.

“The election of the new French president offers us here the possibility to bring dynamism into the development of Europe,” Mrs Merkel said on Monday.

However, she was cautious on his plans for reforming the eurozone.

“There are many proposals which have been on the table for years,” she told reporters. “Of course, I will discuss this with him and I will say let’s be open, so we can achieve things together, not get stuck on what can’t be done.”

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