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With Merkel and PM, France's new president wastes no time

17 Mai 2017

New French President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Monday, May 15, 2017, during his first foreign trip after his inauguration the day before.

That the new prime minister was a member of the Republicans, the mainstream right, "is the demonstration that (the Republicans) can not symbolize an opposition worthy of the name", Le Pen said in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron hit the ground running Monday on his first full day in office by naming a prime minister from the center-right and then flying to Germany, where he and Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to work together to undertake European reforms.

As well as being of similar age, both come from provincial France but followed a classic route through the elite universities Sciences Po and ENA, then public service in Paris and on to politics.

The new government is expected to be half women, and with about half the number of ministers former president Francois Hollande's cabinet had.

The populist Le Pen said her National Front party is now the only "true opposition" for June legislative elections.

Macron has vowed to end the left-right politics which have dominated France for decades, and his start-up centrist Republic on the Move (REM) party, which is just a year old, needs to find a wide base of support for the parliamentary elections. The two-round voting is scheduled for June 11 and June 18. The goal of this political strategy is, according to the analysis of Antonio Navalón, "the containment of populism" within the French nation, "although the designation continues that much of the old parties that ruled the world are now in danger of extinction".

"A whole section of the centre and the right is ready to cross the line", the conservative Le Figaro daily wrote Tuesday.

Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian (John-Eve Le DREE-on) was named foreign minister and prominent centrist Francois Bayrou (Frans-WA Bey-ROO) as justice minister.

According to Reuters, Philippe will be the necessary counterweight to the former socialist members of parliament who have joined Macron's cause.

A day after his inauguration the fervently pro-EU Macron made his first trip overseas, visiting Germany, the other half of the power couple driving European integration.

Later in the week Macron will visit thousands of French troops fighting Islamist militants in West Africa, three years after they first deployed to Mali.

Macron has urged a deepening of the European Union to fight off a recent surge of populism on the continent.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, left, walk together to attend a ceremony at the Paris city hall, France, Sunday, May 14, 2017.

Merkel and Macron want to kick-start ties with an alliance some German media have dubbed "Merkron", stressing that the European Union is resilient despite Britain's vote to leave and a spate of financial and migration crises that have boosted the far-right across the bloc.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer also said: "There is agreement within the government that, given the hard situations we in Europe are confronted with, a plan with treaty changes is not a good idea".

With Merkel and PM, France's new president wastes no time