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Macron picks opposition member as new French Prime Minister

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New French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe

French President Emmanuel Macron has named Edouard Philippe, the 46-year-old Mayor of Le Havre, as his Prime Minister.

Philippe is a member of the center-right Les Républicains party and is close to Alaine Juppé, the former Prime Minister who endorsed Macron after he won the first round of the presidential election.

The choice of Philippe, widely predicted by political pundits indicates Macron’s desire to draw support from the conservative opposition and create balance, according to Emmanuelle Schön-Quinlivan, lecturer in European politics at University College, Cork, in Ireland.

At a press conference following the announcement Monday, Philippe thanked his predecessor, the Socialist Bernard Cazeneuve, and said: “You said you were a left-wing man, I have never doubted that.

“I am a right-wing man, you will not be surprised. Yet, we do respect each other and both know as you do that the general interest has to come first.”

“Macron needs to retilt the people around him to the right as at the moment the main people around him are from the left.

“He needs to give a sign towards Les Républicains. This will be a sign to their followers that this government is genuinely from the left and the right,” she told CNN.

Macron, the youngest French President in history at 39, is counting on winning votes from center-right supporters in elections for the National Assembly next month.

His party is scrambling to get 577 candidates together to contest every seat in the country.

Although he won the May 7 election against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen with 66% of the vote, his party was only founded last year and has never held a single National Assembly seat.

Macron needs to win a majority in the June vote to have the mandate to push his legislative agenda through.

If he manages to achieve that, the Prime Minister’s role will be to see through the promised reforms to address unemployment in France and boost the ailing economy.

Read more: CNN

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