French president's Cabinet mixes old and new, left and right

French president's Cabinet mixes old and new, left and right

France's new president has unveiled his cabinet ministers on Wednesday, selecting a mix of political hues to broaden his support.

In his first major decision, newly inaugurated French President Emmanuel Macron has named conservative lawmaker Edouard Philippe as prime minister.

Other key figures during his campaign were given senior roles in his slimmed-down 22-strong cabinet, with the mayor of Lyon, Gerard Collomb, named as interior minister and centrist ally Francois Bayrou given the justice portfolio.

The new defense minister is 59-year-old centrist politician Sylvie Goulard, who began her career with the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Shortly after Philippe's appointment, Macron was scheduled to travel to Berlin on his first foreign trip as French leader.

Philippe, like Macron, attended the elite ENA school, and his political hero is Rocard - another point in common with the 39-year-old new president.

Some analysts and opponents have questioned the strength of Macron's mandate after he won just 24.01 percent in the first round of the presidential election on April 23 before his landslide victory over Le Pen in the second.

French p resident Emmanuel Macron has gathered his Cabinet for its first meeting - an assembly which looks significantly different to its predecessors. Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69, the former defense minister, stays on in Macron's new government as foreign minister and Europe minister.

Macron picked Bruno Le Maire a pro-European, German-speaking right-winger from The Republicans, as his Economy Minister.

He became LR candidate Francois Fillon's worldwide affairs spokesman, but resigned when the former prime minister was embroiled in a financial scandal this year.

It named 428 candidates last week, half of them women and more than half from outside the political establishment, fulfilling a party pledge made in January.

Nicolas Hulot, a highly-popular former wildlife documentary TV presenter, seen as the Gallic David Attenborough, was named Environment Minister.

Ahead of his visit, Macron's ideas on reforming the eurozone - including giving it a separate budget and minister, moves that would require treaty change - had sparked scepticism in Berlin.

In the opposite camp, the Socialists have shown greater readiness to work with Macron, who quit the departing Socialist government to run for president.

"What Emmanuel Macron is proposing is dynamiting not political reshaping", he said, adding that the LR did not want to confront him but were prepared for political discussion with him.

Also Thursday, for the first time in years, the Elysee courtyard was closed to media following the Cabinet meeting.

He is eyeing parliamentary elections in June when he hopes his new Republique En Marche (REM) party will win a majority, giving him the freedom to enact his ambitious reform programme.

Macron has urged a deepening of the European Union to fight off a recent surge of populism on the continent.

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