Macron moves to bridge right-left divide in new Cabinet

Newly elected French President Macron holds his first cabinet meeting on Thursday after ministers' appointments were announced.
Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian was picked as foreign minister and minister for Europe. Ms Sylvie Goulard was named defence minister in the new government.
Ms Sylvie Goulard was named defence minister in the new government.
Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian was picked as foreign minister and minister for Europe. Ms Sylvie Goulard was named defence minister in the new government.
Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian was picked as foreign minister and minister for Europe.

PARIS • Newly inaugurated centrist French President Emmanuel Macron has chosen his government, appointing a mix of political hues to the top jobs as part of his promise to bridge the right-left divide.

Having already made conservative Edouard Philippe, a member of The Republicans (LR) party, his prime minister earlier in the week, Mr Macron picked Mr Bruno Le Maire, a pro-European, German- speaking rightist, also from the LR, as his economy minister.

For the post of interior minister, he picked Mr Gerard Collomb, the Lyon Mayor who was one of the first Socialists to be a vocal supporter of Mr Macron.

Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, the outgoing Socialist Defence Minister and a close friend of former president Francois Hollande, was named foreign minister and minister for Europe. Ms Sylvie Goulard, a centrist European Union lawmaker, was named defence minister.

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The government appointments are part of a delicate balancing act Mr Macron has to perform ahead of the mid-June legislative elections.

By becoming a president with no established party backing, he has thrown traditional party loyalties into the air, and early poll predictions show his start-up Republic on the Move party will come from nowhere to have more Lower House seats than any other.

To make sure he ends up with a workable majority, he surrounds himself with people tempted away from both sides of the political divide, which broadens his support and weakens the main traditional parties, the LR and the Socialists.

By doing so, though, he could also be increasing the risk of dissent in future.

Other appointments included Mr Francois Bayrou, the head of the centrist Modem party, as justice minister and Ms Marielle de Sarnez as junior Europe minister.

Mr Macron, 39, had promised to include people from civil society in his government. To that end, Mr Nicolas Hulot, an environmentalist, was picked as ecology minister.

Mr Macron was set to meet European Council president Donald Tusk in Paris yesterday as he tackles his top foreign priority of reforming the EU.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'Macron moves to bridge right-left divide in new Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe