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New French prime minister took job because of 'unique' situation

New French prime minister took job because of 'unique' situation

Newly inaugurated French President Emmanuel Macron appointed his government on Wednesday, naming a mix of figures from across the political spectrum in a bid to bridge a right-left rift.

Four junior ministers also were named Wednesday, making the total number of Cabinet posts smaller by one-third than under Hollande.

Edouard Philippe, 46, a lawmaker and mayor of the port city of Le Havre, is from the moderate wing of the main centre-right party, The Republicans, and will provide a counterweight to former Socialist members of parliament who have joined Macron's cause.

Before Macron's rise, Francois Bayrou was France's most well-known centrist politician and a three-time failed presidential candidate.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69, who led France's military operations overseas as former President Francois Hollande's defence minister, will stay on in Macron's government as foreign minister and also be in charge of European affairs.

Gerard Collomb, the veteran Socialist party mayor of Lyon who was one of the first in his party to back Macron, was named interior minister.

Bruno Le Maire, who served under former center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy, has been named as Macron's economy minister.

Other positions were filled by ministers from civil society.

Nicolas Hulot is a prominent environmental campaigner and documentary journalist whose television series promotes environmentalism while showing off attractive landscapes.




"We have a 39-year-old guy [as French president] with, however, good work experiences, and, above all, with a lovely mum who has taken him by the arm ever since he was a boy", Berlusconi said late Monday during a campaign event in Monza, near Milan.

Without a parliamentary majority, he will find it hard to push through his ambitious plans to loosen France's strict labor laws, boost entrepreneurship and reduce class sizes in tough neighborhoods.

Macron is counting on winning votes from centre-right supporters in the legislative elections next month.

The reform-minded politician and senator, who was one of Macron's first big-name backers, was moved to tears at seeing the 39-year-old take office at the Elysee Palace last Sunday.

By contrast, Marine Le Pen, the French far-right leader who lost the presidency to Macron, said in a statement that "Philippe's nomination is the flawless summary of the last 10 years in France, this "sacred" alliance between the old right and left".

The armed forces will now be led by Sylvie Goulard, the most senior woman in the government.

The Defense Ministry may remain in the hands of Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian to ensure continuity in French military operations against Islamic extremists in Syria, Iraq and Africa.

"He's (Le Drian) very serious and well-liked but doesn't know that much about foreign affairs".

This item has been corrected to show that Goulard is 52 years old, not 59. The announcement has been a delayed while the authorities checked the tax records and backgrounds of potential ministers, to avoid any potential conflict of interest.


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