France’s new pres­i­dent wastes no time: names PM, sees Merkel

Cape Breton Post - - World -

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron met with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in Berlin on Mon­day, be­ing greeted on a red carpet out­side the chan­cellery with mil­i­tary hon­ours on a busy first full day in of­fice that started with his nam­ing 46-year-old law­maker Edouard Philippe as his new prime min­is­ter.

Ap­point­ing Philippe to the top job in his govern­ment ticked sev­eral boxes for Macron, at 39 France’s youngest pres­i­dent, who took power on Sun­day.

Philippe’s age re­in­forced the gen­er­a­tional shift in France’s cor­ri­dors of power and the im­age of youth­ful vigour that Macron is cul­ti­vat­ing. Philippe is also rel­a­tively un­known to vot­ers, fulfilling Macron’s cam­paign prom­ise to re­pop­u­late French pol­i­tics with new faces.

Philippe is the mayor of the Nor­mandy port of Le Havre, a trained lawyer and an au­thor of po­lit­i­cal thrillers. His ap­point­ment marks a mile­stone in the re­build­ing of France’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape, which has been dy­na­mited by the elec­tion of Macron — the first pres­i­dent of mod­ern France not from the coun­try’s main­stream left or right par­ties.

Philippe is a mem­ber of the main­stream-right Repub­li­cans party. As such, Philippe could pos­si­bly at­tract other Repub­li­cans to Macron’s cause, as the cen­trist pres­i­dent works to piece to­gether a ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment to pass his promised eco­nomic re­forms.

Alain Juppe, a for­mer French prime min­is­ter, called Philippe “a man of great tal­ent’’ with “all the qual­i­ties to han­dle the dif­fi­cult job.’’

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Macron flew to Berlin, con­tin­u­ing a tra­di­tion of French pres­i­dents mak­ing their first for­eign trip to Ger­many.

A large group of on­look­ers, some car­ry­ing Euro­pean flags, stood out­side the chan­cellery as Macron ar­rived.

Ger­many and France have tra­di­tion­ally been the mo­tor of Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion, but the re­la­tion­ship has be­come in­creas­ingly lop­sided over re­cent years as France strug­gled eco­nom­i­cally.

The visit sig­nalled his in­ten­tions to move rapidly on cam­paign prom­ises to re­vive sup­port for the be­lea­guered Euro­pean Union by re­form­ing and strength­en­ing it.

Speed is be­com­ing one of Macron’s trade­marks. In­clud­ing the “thank you’’ at the end, the an­nounce­ment of Philippe’s ap­point­ment, de­liv­ered by the pres­i­dency’s new sec­re­tary gen­eral, took just eight sec­onds.


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