French president Emmanuel Macron appoints relatively unknown prime minister

Is he draining le swamp?

New French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed a relatively unknown lawmaker to serve as the prime minister of France.

Macron's appointment of Edouard Philippe, 46, is making good on campaign promises to repopulate French politics with new faces.

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

Philippe is the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, a trained lawyer and an author of political thrillers. He's also a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party that was badly battered by Macron's victory in the presidential campaign.


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

The prime minister's age reinforces the generational shift in France's corridors of power and the image of youthful vigor that Macron is cultivating.

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


Philippe is close to former Prime Minister Alain Juppe. Reacting to Philippe's appointment, Juppe called the new prime minister "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the difficult job."

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

Philippe previously worked as a director of public affairs for French nuclear group Areva and as a lawyer with New York City-based international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP, The New York Times reported.

The National Front party of Marine Le Pen, who was beaten handily by Macron in the French presidential election, has joined the criticism of Macron's appointment of Edouard Philippe as prime minister.

Nicolas Bay, the party's secretary general, said Macron's government is becoming "a synthesis of the worst of the right and the worst of the left."

On Monday, Macron met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He traveled to Berlin a day after being sworn in, continuing a tradition of French presidents making their first foreign trip to Germany.

"Europe will only do well if there is a strong France, and I am committed to that," Merkel told Macron during his first foreign visit as president.

She said it was an honor that Macron chose to visit Berlin during his first full day in office, and said the countries' ministers would meet after an upcoming French legislative vote.

The two talked about the European asylum system, trade relations and other issues, according to Merkel.

"We each represent the interests of our own countries, but the interests of Germany are naturally closely tied to the interests of France," she said.

Macron said Monday that he will work closely with Merkel on a "road
map" of reforms for the European Union and the eurozone.

Speaking at the side of the German leader, Macron said that they need to work on "deep reforms that are necessary and need common work."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.