Emmanuel Macron Names Édouard Philippe as Prime Minister of France
PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron of France named Édouard Philippe, a moderate center-right lawmaker, as prime minister on Monday, making his first major political decision a day after being formally installed as the country’s leader.
Mr. Macron, who ran as an independent centrist after leaving the Socialist Party, is expected to name the rest of his cabinet by the middle of the week. The selection of Mr. Philippe, 46, from of the center-right party the Republicans, was announced by Alexis Kohler, the president’s secretary general, in the courtyard of the Élysée Palace.
Mr. Philippe, who is also the mayor of the northern port city of Le Havre, is a close political ally of Alain Juppé, a former prime minister who ran, unsuccessfully, in the center-right presidential primary last year, and who is also a central figure of the Republicans’ centrist wing.
Mr. Philippe was not a nationally known figure in France until last week, when the news media started reporting that he was one of the main candidates being considered for prime minister.
Before his nomination on Monday, French television channels frantically covered his movements live, with cameramen on motorbikes following his taxi through Paris.
Mr. Macron, 39, who had never held elective office before winning the presidential race on May 7, became the youngest head of state in modern French history when he was installed as leader on Sunday. He was scheduled to travel to Berlin later on Monday for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In many ways, Mr. Philippe mirrors Mr. Macron: Both are younger than most French politicians, both went to top French universities, and both have worked in the private sector.
Mr. Macron was an investment banker for Rothschild, and Mr. Philippe worked as a lawyer for the American firm Debevoise & Plimpton, and as head of public affairs for Areva, the French nuclear power giant.
“I believe they know and like each other, because of their intellectual honesty and their rigor,” said Benjamin Griveaux, a spokesman for Mr. Macron and a candidate in the legislative elections in June, on Europe 1 radio.
The nomination of a centrist Republican as prime minister could play a crucial role as Mr. Macron tries to convince more moderates to join his En Marche! (Onward!) movement before those elections — or at least to work with the organization in Parliament. All 577 seats in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of Parliament, are up for grabs.
Mr. Macron’s election this month rattled France’s traditional political parties, and he wants to pull in moderates from both the Republicans and the Socialists, France’s traditional left-wing formation, to marginalize both of those parties.
“I am convinced that the Republicans will split because that is the way political life is being reshaped,” Mr. Macron said in an interview with Le Parisien before the second round of the presidential election, in which he defeated the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
French presidents are free to choose their prime ministers, but only if they hold a majority in the National Assembly. If that is not the case, the party that dominates the assembly has the leverage to insist that one of its members become prime minister.
That means that Mr. Macron could be forced to replace his prime minister, depending on the outcome of the June elections.