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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Macron names Edouard Philippe as new French prime minister

Edouard Philippe has been named as France's new prime minister. (Eric Houri/Le Have city hall/AP)
Edouard Philippe has been named as France's new prime minister. (Eric Houri/Le Have city hall/AP)
New French President Emmanuel Macron (Francois Mori, Pool/AP)

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

Alexis Kohler, Mr Macron's new general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace, made the announcement on Monday.

Mr Philippe is the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, a trained lawyer and an author of political thrillers.

He is also a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party that was badly beaten by Mr Macron's victory in the presidential campaign.

Mr Philippe's appointment ticks several boxes for the 39-year-old Mr Macron, France's youngest president, who took power on Sunday.

Mr Philippe's age reinforces the generational shift in France's corridors of power and the image of youthful vigour that Mr Macron is cultivating.

Mr Philippe could also attract other Republicans to Mr Macron's cause as the centrist president works to piece together a majority in parliament to pass his promised economic reforms.

Mr Philippe is close to Alain Juppe, a former prime minister who campaigned for the French presidency, but was beaten in a primary.

Reacting to Mr Philippe's appointment, Mr Juppe called the new prime minister "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the difficult job".

Mr Philippe served as Mr Juppe's campaign spokesman during the Republicans party primary.

When Mr Juppe was beaten, Mr Philippe switched his support to Francois Fillon for the French presidency but then quit the campaign when prosecutors started investigating allegations that Mr Fillon's family benefited illegally from cushy taxpayer-funded jobs.

The mayor of Le Havre since 2010, Mr Philippe previously worked as a director of public affairs for French nuclear group Areva from 2007-2010 and as a lawyer from 2004-2007 with New York City-based international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP.

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