Emmanuel Macron prepares to introduce new French government

Posted May 19, 2017

Le Drian has been named Wednesday May 17, 2017 Foreign Minister in French President President Emmanuel Macron's first cabinet.

Half of the appointees announced on Wednesday are men and half are women.

France's youngest ever president has already attracted dozens of Socialist MPs to his side as he seeks to create a new centrist force in French politics that will marginalise the traditional parties of left and right.

Popular Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian had barely left his post of defense minister under President Francois Hollande when he was handed the vital portfolio of foreign affairs and Europe.

Francois Bayrou, centrist leader of Modem, was named Justice Minister, and will be in charge of pushing through Macron's first law on "moralising" political life.

From the right-wing, Bruno Le Maire, a pro-European, was picked as economy minister.

"Macron has tried to strike a fine political balance to maximize his chances of building a majority, while making sure the new government has enough competent figures to launch reforms", Antonio Barroso, deputy director of research at Teneo Intelligence, said in a note. To that end, Nicolas Hulot, a well-known environmentalist, was named ecology minister.

France, he said, "is today the only big country in the European Union that, for more than 30 years, has not succeeded in beating the problem of mass unemployment".

Meanwhile, French Polynesia's president Edouard Fritch has given his full backing to the new president, saying there is a shared vision of how Tahiti can help Mr Macron's new strategy for Europe.

Macron is expected to visit French troops in Africa later this week.

Appearing earlier at a handover ceremony with outgoing Socialist prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who is also from Normandy, Philippe joked that Normans were "aggressively moderate" as well as "conquerors".

"Who can think that the left will pull itself together if it is part of a coalition led by a member of the Republican party?" he said, according to Reuters news agency.

Macron seemed to have also paid attention to gender, having chosen nine female ministers.

Sylvie Goulard will be defense minister, while Muriel Pénicaud becomes labor minister and Agnes Buzyn is health minister. Macron was inaugurated as France's new president at the Elysee Palace in Paris, and immediately launched into his mission to shake up French politics, world economics and the European Union.

But over 20 LR members of parliament, including some party heavyweights and former ministers, issued a joint statement on Monday urging the party to positively respond to the "hand extended by the president".

Macron has pledged to fight corruption after tax evasion and other scandals hit the previous government.

Macron on Monday named center-right politician Edouard Philippe of the Republicans as his Prime Minister.