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Macron selects government from left, right and centre

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The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, has unveiled his first government – an unprecedented mix of figures from parties on the left, right and centre, including a right-wing economy minister who previously served under Nicolas Sarkozy. reports citing the Guardian.

Macron’s appointment this week of a prime minister, Edouard Philippe, from right-wing party Les Républicains, sparked other figures to join government from the right.

Bruno Le Maire, 48, a former agriculture minister and secretary of state for Europe under Sarkozy, was named economy minister, a role which Macron once held himself. Gérald Darmanin, another Sarkozy ally from the right, will work with him in charge of public finances.

Other figures from the left and centre took senior roles, including Jean-Yves Le Drian, a leading Socialist who was defence minister in the last government under François Hollande. He was appointed foreign minister – one of two figures from Hollande’s mandate to now serve under Macron’s presidency.

Macron carried out his promise of appointing the same number of women as men. However, only one of the government’s top five roles – defence – went to a woman, Sylvie Goulard.

Goulard is a member of the European parliament and a Europe and finance expert. She was Macron’s top European adviser during the presidential campaign, masterminding his meetings with the German chancellor Angela Merkel. Her appointment to the defence ministry sent a message about closer European defence. Goulard, who is one of several fluent German speakers in government and also speaks fluent English, will be key for British emphasis on continuing defence ties with France after Brexit.

One of Macron’s biggest coups was the appointment of the environmentalist and former TV personality, Nicolas Hulot, to head a broad new environment ministry – the second most important position in government.
Hulot had previously refused offers by former presidents Sarkozy and Hollande to serve in government. His appointment was seen as a move by Macron to silence criticism from the left that he was not committed enough to green issues.

Those criticisms intensified after Macron appointed Philippe – a right-wing mayor who had worked for the French nuclear giant, Areva – as prime minister. Hulot’s ministry will also encompass “solidarity”. Cécile Duflot, former head of the Green party, said she wished Hulot luck, after earlier warning that his appointment must not be just a public relations “trophy”. She said Hulot must now be seen to “influence” Macron’s line on the environment.

François Bayrou, head of the centrist MoDem party, who gave up his own presidential ambitions and rallied to Macron during the campaign, was appointed justice minister and saw his party take three important positions including Goulard in defence, and another member of the European parliament, Marielle de Sarnez, as European affairs minister.

Other posts went to elder statesmen from the Socialist party. Gerard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon, who will be 70 this year and has been in politics for more than 40 years, becomes interior minister, the most senior role in government with responsibility for policing and the fight against terrorism.

Collomb has for decades been a social democrat figure within the Socialist party but has never had a government post. He was one of the first big Socialist figures to rally to Macron’s fledgling political movement, En Marche! last year and was in tears at Macron’s inauguration at the Élysée this weekend.

2017.05.17 / 22:47
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