Sunday 21 January 2018

Macron to reshuffle French government after huge win

French President Emmanuel Macron meets voters after casting his own ballot in the northern seaside town of Le Touquet (AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron meets voters after casting his own ballot in the northern seaside town of Le Touquet (AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron is poised to rearrange his Cabinet after his new centrist party engineered a landslide in the country's parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe formally resigned on Monday afternoon, a largely symbolic move required after a legislative election.

He was immediately renamed to his job and is in charge of forming a government by Wednesday afternoon, the French presidency said in a statement.

Since Mr Macron's new party, Republic on the Move!, won an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly, government spokesman Christophe Castaner said on RTL radio the government reshuffle would be "technical and not far-reaching".

He refused to say whether ministers who have come under suspicion of corruption would keep their jobs.

President Macron's plans have been slightly delayed by an attempted attack on Monday afternoon on security forces on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb went to the scene and said he will present a bill on Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting to extend France's state of emergency from July 15, its current expiration date, until November 1.

He will also talk about a new law aiming at maintaining "a high security level" beyond the end of the state of emergency.

After President Macron vigorously campaigned on a promise to renew France's political landscape, other parties also made efforts to promote new faces.

The victorious newcomers started arriving on Monday at the National Assembly to learn their way around before the first parliament session next week.

The National Assembly says new politicians' average age is down from 55 in the previous term to 49 now.

The youngest is 23, the oldest 79.

The number of female politicians is the highest ever in France's lower house of parliament, reaching 38.7% - up from 26.8%.

Three-quarters are starting their first term at the National Assembly. Some previously had local political experience, but many are newcomers to politics.

Republic on the Move! and its allies from the Modem party took 350 seats - far more than the 289 needed for a majority, according to the Interior Ministry's definitive results.

Mr Macron's government is expected to pass its first set of measures during a special parliamentary session starting on June 27 - laws to strengthen security, improve ethics in politics and reform France's restrictive employment laws.

The conservative Republicans and their allies are the main opposition group in parliament, winning 136 seats.

The Socialist Party, which dominated the outgoing Assembly, was the main loser in Sunday's vote, winning only 30 seats.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon's party won 17 seats, over the minimum of 15 needed to form a group, a tool that provides extra funds and speaking time.

The far-right party National Front won eight seats - up from two in the outgoing Assembly - including one for its leader, Marine Le Pen.

Ms Le Pen on Monday praised Sunday's vote as "historic" result, but denounced an "anti-democratic voting system" that she says does not represent the "real weight" of her party in the country.

The National Front won 8.75% of the votes nationwide, which is more than the Socialists and Mr Melenchon's far-left party, yet it has fewer seats.

"We're worth at least 80 (seats) in my opinion, given the energy we will use to promote our views," Ms Le Pen told a news conference.

Others agree that France's current two-round voting system favours mainstream parties and their allies.

Mr Collomb said the government wants to reduce the number of politicians in the future and change the voting system to introduce a partial proportional representation, which would give smaller parties better representation.


Press Association

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