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Support for Emmanuel Macron's party grows before French parliamentary election

18 Mai 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed Edouard Philippe, a relatively unknown 46-year-old lawmaker, as prime minister, making good on campaign promises to repopulate French politics with new faces.

France's newly inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled his cabinet, with women filling half of the 22 positions, media reports said.

More than 170 lawmakers from the right have signed a statement of support for Mr Macron after he named Republican Edouard Philippe as prime minister.

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.

Centrist Sylvie Goulard, a Member of the European Parliament, was given defence, while another centrist, leader of the Modem party and three-time presidential candidate, Francois Bayrou, has been appointed Justice Minister.

Among possible civil society nominees is Nicolas Hulot, a popular former TV documentary star turned environment activist, who helped prepare the 2015 United Nations COP21 climate summit in Paris.

Macron's party announced a list of 428 candidates, majority political unknowns, last Thursday to fight the parliamentary elections.

Mr Macron was to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday evening to discuss issues including Syria and climate change, and he is set to visit French troops in Africa on Friday, sources said.

Speaking last Thursday, Philippe encouraged Macron to "transgress" by naming someone from outside his party which he hinted would encourage some of his colleagues to join the REM.

Emmanuel Macron's support for the Paris bid is seen as symbolically important, and his decision to meet Tuesday with the visiting International Olympic Committee delegation was one of his first moves since taking office Sunday.

If Macron's party doesn't win a majority in the June 11 and 18 parliamentary elections, he might have to form a coalition and adjust the makeup of the government.

Merkel's government has been grateful for Macron's support for her open-armed approach to refugees, which Macron said "rescued Europe's honor" - rare clear backing on that front from a senior European official.

"Bruno Retailleau, leader of the French Republican senators, found harsh words for Philippe's nomination, saying that Macron's tactic involves 'weakening the right in the parliamentary elections" and "destabilising the electorate".

In the opposite camp, the Socialists have shown greater readiness to work with Macron, who quit the departing Socialist government to run for president.

The announcement will be made at 1300 GMT. Sylvie Goulard, a centrist European Union lawmaker, was named defense minister.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have pledged to work closely together to draw up a "road map" of reforms for the European Union.

Travelling to the German capital to meet the veteran leader in his first official trip overseas, Macron used the opportunity to call for a "historic reconstruction" of Europe.

Macron's office will announce the government lineup Wednesday afternoon, after a delay to dig deeper into proposed ministers' tax records and potential conflicts of interest.

Support for Emmanuel Macron's party grows before French parliamentary election