16 May 2017

Emmanuel Macron picks centre-right Édouard Philippe as PM

Le Havre mayor from Les Républicains party chosen to lead battle for majority in French parliamentary elections.

France’s centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, has appointed a prime minister from the right to lead his bid for a parliamentary majority in June’s elections and push through his plans to loosen strict labour laws.

Édouard Philippe, 46, the mayor of the Normandy port town Le Havre, comes from Les Républicains, the party that was headed by Nicolas Sarkozy until last year and whose candidate, François Fillon, was knocked out in the first round of the presidential election.

His appointment is a blow to Les Républicains, who have been trying to regroup after the presidential vote and prevent defections to Macron’s camp.

Party officials insisted Philippe’s move was strictly a personal decision, but about 20 MPs broke ranks and issued a statement urging Les Républicains and centre-right allies to accept Macron’s “outstretched hand”, saying the right needed to “take the full measure of the political transformation taking place before their eyes”.