French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed Edouard Philippe, a relatively unknown 46-year-old lawmaker, as prime minister, making good on campaign promises to repopulate French politics with new faces.
Alexis Kohler, Macron’s new general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace, made the announcement Monday.
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. Philippe’s age reinforces the generational shift in France’s corridors of power and the image of youthful vigor that Macron is cultivating.
Philippe could 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.
It is the first time in modern French political history that a president has appointed a prime minister from outside his camp without being forced to by a defeat in parliamentary elections.
Macron has vowed to end the left-right politics which have dominated France for decades, and his start-up centrist Republic en Marche (REM) party, which is just a year old, needs to find a wide base of support for the parliamentary elections.
By appointing Philippe, Macron has passed over some loyal followers including Richard Ferrand, a former Socialist who was one of the first to join Macron’s cause last year and is secretary general of REM.