Macron ap­point­ments cross party lines

Half of nomina­tions are women and half have not held pub­lic of­fice be­fore

Financial Times USA - - FRONT PAGE - ANNE- SYLVAINE CHASSANY — PARIS

The new French pres­i­dent has ap­pointed cabi­net mem­bers from the cen­tre-right Repub­li­cans and the So­cial­ist party in a bid to max­imise his chances of se­cur­ing a par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity.

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron of France reached across party lines to cre­ate a govern­ment of pro-Euro­pean cen­trists and politi­cal new­com­ers as he tries to max­imise his chances of se­cur­ing a par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity in elec­tions next month.

Four days af­ter tak­ing of­fice as France’s youngest pres­i­dent, Mr Macron said for­mer min­is­ters Bruno Le Maire, a mem­ber of the cen­tre-right Repub­li­cans party, and Gérard Col­lomb, the So­cial­ist mayor of Lyon, would be mem­bers of his first 22-strong cabi­net.

The poach­ing of Mr Le Maire to be econ­omy min­is­ter — he stood as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in pri­mary elec­tions for his cen­tre-right party — fol­lows the ap­point­ment of Edouard Philippe, also a Repub­li­can, as prime min­is­ter on Mon­day. Half of the cabi­net are women and half have not pre­vi­ously held pub­lic of­fice. Mr Le Maire was agri­cul­ture min­is­ter un­der rightwing pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy. A Europhile and a Ger­man speaker, he at­tracted less than 3 per cent of the vote in his party’s pri­maries.

Mr Col­lomb will deal with France’s ter­ror­ism alert as the new in­te­rior min­is­ter. François Bay­rou, the leader of the cen­trist MoDem party, be­comes jus­tice min­is­ter. Gérald Dar­manin, a ris­ing star of the Repub­li­can party, has been named as bud­get min­is­ter.

Other crit­i­cal ap­point­ments in­clude Sylvie Goulard, a cen­trist MEP and early sup­porter of Mr Macron, as de­fence min­is­ter. She re­places Jean-Yves Le Drian, a se­nior So­cial­ist fig­ure and loy­al­ist of out­go­ing pres­i­dent François Hol­lande, who be­comes for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter, also in charge of EU af­fairs.

The ap­point­ments re­flect “an un­prece­dented over­haul of our politi­cal life”, an aide to Mr Macron noted. “This govern­ment brings to­gether politi­cal fig­ures from all over the politi­cal spec­trum.”

Mr Macron cam­paigned on a promise to erase the right-left politi­cal di­vide and needs to weaken France’s es­tab­lished par­ties, partly by co-opt­ing its mem­bers, to se­cure a ma­jor­ity for his La République en Marche! party in the leg­isla­tive elec­tions on June 11 and 18. Founded last year, REM is fight­ing its first par­lia­men­tary elec­tion.

Mr Macron’s first cabi­net may be short­lived. If the pres­i­dent fails to se­cure an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity in the lower house next month, he may be forced to form a new govern­ment re­flect­ing the politi­cal forces at play.

So­cial­ist de­fec­tions have mounted af­ter the party’s drub­bing in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. But con­ser­va­tives, while also bruised by the ill-fated cam­paign of their nom­i­nee, François Fil­lon, be­lieve they can still win a sig­nif­i­cant share of seats in the na­tional assem­bly. They hope to tap into cen­tre-right vot­ers’ frus­tra­tions as well as their es­tab­lished net­work of lo­cal of­fi­cials and the in­ex­pe­ri­ence of Mr Macron’s party.

“While there aren’t that many high­pro­file rightwing de­fec­tions, Le Maire’s ap­point­ment is a strong mes­sage to cen­tre-right vot­ers ahead of leg­isla­tive elec­tions, in essence telling them: ‘this govern­ment is pro-business, pro-re­forms and se­ri­ous about pub­lic spend­ing cuts’,” said Luc Rouban, a pro­fes­sor at Sciences Po Ce­vipof.

His nom­i­na­tion is likely to re­as­sure Ger­many even fur­ther over France’s will­ing­ness to im­ple­ment struc­tural re­forms, seen in Ber­lin as a pre­con­di­tion for re­boot­ing the Franco-Ger­man re­la­tion­ship and the EU.

“Nam­ing a Ger­man-speak­ing con­ser­va­tive as French fi­nance min­is­ter and eu­rogroup mem­ber is a smart

‘This govern­ment brings to­gether politi­cal fig­ures from all over the politi­cal spec­trum’

choice,” Hen­rik En­der­lein, an EU pro­fes­sor at Her­tie School of Gov­er­nance, tweeted. “A friendly chal­lenger to (Ger­man fi­nance min­is­ter Wolf­gang) Schäu­ble.”

Mr Le Maire is ex­pected to help put to­gether the bill in­tended to in­ject more flex­i­bil­ity into France’s jobs mar­ket this sum­mer if the govern­ment sur­vives the leg­isla­tive elec­tions next month.

Mr Macron made good on his pledge to in­clude politi­cal new­com­ers, nam­ing an im­munol­ogy and cancer spe­cial­ist as health min­is­ter and an Olympic fenc­ing cham­pion as sports min­is­ter.

Ni­co­las Hu­lot, an en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist and TV pre­sen­ter who was in­volved in French ef­forts to seal the Paris ac­cord on global warm­ing in 2015, was named en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, over­see­ing en­ergy pol­icy.

Shares in EDF, the French en­ergy com­pany with a large nu­clear business, fell 7 per cent af­ter the cabi­net posts were an­nounced.

Mounir Mahjoubi, who fended off hack­ing at­tacks dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign as head of se­cu­rity for Mr Macron’s party, was made ju­nior min­is­ter in charge of the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

Martin Bu­reau/AFP/Getty Im­ages

Top post: Bruno Le Maire of the Repub­li­cans, nom­i­nated as econ­omy min­is­ter, speaks dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial pri­mary in Septem­ber in Paris. A Ger­man speaker, he was agri­cul­ture min­is­ter un­der Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy Bruno Le Maire Econ­omy

Sylvie Goulard De­fence

Gérard Col­lomb In­te­rior

Jean-Yves Le Drian For­eign af­fairs

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