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Emmanuel Macron appoints Edouard Philippe as French PM

19 May 2017

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has described Emmanuel Macron as a "good-looking lad with a with a good-looking mum", in an apparent dig at the age gap between the newly elected French president and his wife, Brigitte.

The 39-year old president, who set up his own party just over a year ago and wants to smash the left-right divide, had already made conservative Edouard Philippe his prime minister earlier in the week.

French right wing politicians reacted angrily today after new president Emmanuel Macron named 11 women in a politically and gender-balanced cabinet.

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.

Gerard Collomb, the veteran Socialist party mayor of Lyon who was one of the first in his party to back Macron, was named interior minister.

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Specifically, the appointments of rising center-right figures Bruno Le Maire as economy minister and Gerald Darmanin as budget minister are an attempt to split the Republicans (LR) in two.

Other women named as part of the government include Agnès Busain as minister for solidarity and health, Muriel Penicaud as minister of labour and Françoise Nyseen, a publisher, as culture minister.

Among the non-politicians to be offered roles is well-known environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, a source in the presidency said.

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".

Macron appointed Philippe, a lawmaker from the moderate wing of The Republicans party, on Monday to head his first government in a move aimed at broadening his political appeal and weakening opponents before parliamentary elections in June.

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Macron traveled to Berlin on Monday to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel after naming his prime minister, Edouard Philippe.

France's new sports minister is one of the country's most decorated sportswomen, with five Olympic medals and six world championships under her belt.

Later Wednesday, Macron will host European Council President Donald Tusk at the Elysee Palace for a private dinner.

As a presidential candidate, Macron called for a "new Franco-German deal" that would involve "much more structured cooperation" on investment, on European border security, and on defense.

She had never been a lawmaker in the French parliament and has no government experience - both attributes that could be either a strength or weakness for Macron's fledgling government.

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Macron has pledged to fight corruption after tax evasion and other scandals hit the previous government. He has also promised a tough line on Britain as it negotiates its departure from the European Union, to deter others from trying to leave after debt and migration crises that have eroded public support for the bloc.