In his first major decision, newly inaugurated French President Emmanuel Macron has named conservative lawmaker Edouard Philippe as prime minister. Philippe has been the mayor of Le Havre, a port city in the Normandy region of northern France, since 2010 and became a member of parliament for the region two years later.
He is a close ally of Alain Juppé, the former prime minister who ran unsuccessfully in the center-right presidential primary last year.
Macron is seeking to attract members from both the right and left to his new political party, La République en Marche (Republic on the Move), in time for next month's parliamentary elections. Selecting Philippe as prime minister is seen as a way to bring in more support from the center-right, which Macron will need to push through his proposed economic reforms
Last week, the new party announced a list of 428 candidates for June's elections, half of whom were women, the broadcaster says. Only 5% were MPs in the outgoing French parliament — and those MPs were all from the Socialist left.
Philippe and Macron have much in common, with Philippe echoing the generational shift in French politics that the 39-year-old Macron embodies. (At 46, Philippe is the country's youngest head of government since 1984). Both Macron and Philippe went to top universities and worked in the private sector. And both are pro-European, according to France24, which notes that Philippe graduated from secondary school in Bonn, Germany, and speaks fluent German.
Philippe was the expected choice for PM, though he was not well known in France until last week. As news of his candidacy spread, French television channels started following his movements live with cameramen on motorbikes.
That sort of intrigue might appeal to Philippe. The new prime minister has co-authored two political thrillers: L' Heure de verite (The Hour of Truth) and Dans l'ombre (In the Shadows). And the suspense may be just beginning. If Macron's party doesn't win a majority of the 577 available seats in next month's legislative elections, Philippe's job could be in jeopardy.