Macron names centre-right politician Édouard Philippe as French PM

New French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe

France’s new president Emmanuel Macron has named Édouard Philippe, 46, from the centre-right Les Républicains party as prime minister.

Macron announced the appointment on Monday, his first day in office after his inauguration on Sunday.

The move is widely seen as a bid to draw leading figures from the conservative opposition into his camp.

Philippe has been mayor of the northern port town of Le Havre since 2010 and an MP for the region since 2012.

“I am a man of the right,” Philippe declared on Monday during his first speech as France’s new prime minister and in the presence of his Socialist predecessor Bernard Cazeneuve.

Macron’s PM nevertheless acknowledged that he and Cazeneuve shared similar backgrounds and a mutual interest in putting the wellbeing of all French people ahead of partisan politics.

On paper, Macron and Philippe have a lot in common. They both studied at the same universities and share many similar views on the economy and social issues.

Like Macron, Philippe is pro-European. He graduated from secondary school in Bonn, in Germany, and speaks fluent German.

A trained lawyer, he worked as public affairs director for the French state nuclear group Areva between 2007 and 2010.

Macron’s spokesperson, Benjamin Griveaux, told Europe 1 radio early Monday that the new PM and president are acquainted and “like each other’s intellectual honesty and rigour”.

“He [Philippe] fits the job description perfectly … he has experience in parliament, and has demonstrated qualities and skills for the role,” Griveaux said.

In his new role, Philippe will be responsible for presiding over the government and carrying out the president’s political programme.

A close working relationship between both men will be key although Philippe has not always been conciliatory towards his new boss.

By picking Philippe, Macron is hoping to attract other conservatives to his new centrist party La République en Marche, ahead of the legislative elections on June 11 and 18.

Macron’s party, which promises a blend of left and right, will need to win a majority of the 577 seats available if the president is to push through his planned economic reforms.

 

Zainab Sa’id