French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday appointed Edouard Philippe, a conservative lawmaker from the Républicains party, as prime minister.
Philippe, 46, is the mayor of Le Havre, a coastal town in Normandy. He is an ally and former aide of Alain Juppé, the former French PM and current Bordeaux mayor who ran unsuccessfully for the Républicains’ presidential nomination last year.
He will now form a cabinet, to be announced Tuesday, and lead the Macron offensive to take control of parliament in elections next month.
By choosing a long-standing ally of Juppé, Macron was seeking to reaffirm his pledge to govern outside the traditional French left-right divide, which he thinks will help him secure an absolute majority in parliament.
Although it had been widely expected, the immediate consequence of Philippe’s appointment as PM will be to throw the Républicains into turmoil. Even before Philippe was appointed, Macron had been criticized by Républicains officials for trying to “poach” people from the party.
Juppé allies, who voiced their unease at the party’s right-wing shift during the presidential campaign of François Fillon, have been contemplating joining Macron without waiting for the parliamentary ballot next month.
Many of them were waiting for Macron to appoint a prime minister from their camp, to verify that he had kept his word to govern “neither left nor right.”
The new president’s party, La République en Marche, last week refrained from putting forward candidates in electoral districts where Juppé allies are running, to give them time for “reflecting,” party general secretary Richard Ferrand said.