France’s newly-inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron named Edouard Philippe as the country’s new prime minister in an unusual move of choosing a head of government from outside the president's party.
Philippe, 46, mayor of the port city Le Havre and a close associate of prominent conservative Alain Juppe, is from the moderate wing of The Republicans party.
His appointment was seen as a strategic move by the France’s youngest president, a former minister in the outgoing Socialist government who is trying to woo modernisers of all stripes to his new centrist party, La Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move or REM). Macron has already attracted dozens of Socialist MPs to his side, triggering a major realignment in French politics that has left the traditional parties floundering.
Like Macron, Philippe is a product of France's elite ENA college for senior public servants and worked for a while in the private sector.
After campaigning for then-prime minister Michel Rocard of the Socialist Party as a youth, Phillipe switched to the right, becoming a close ally of centre-right former prime minister Juppe.
Phillipe’s first task will be to help Macron finalise his cabinet choices, to be announced on Tuesday.
France's new president has said he wants a mix of experience and new blood – a balance he has attempted to achieve in his slate of candidates for the June 11 to 18 elections.