Macron set to name new French prime minister by mid-May

Transfer of power from outgoing president Francois Hollande to take place next weekend

Incoming French president Emmanuel Macron speaks after his victory in the presidential run-off at his campaign headquarters in Paris. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/Pool Photo via AP

Incoming French president Emmanuel Macron speaks after his victory in the presidential run-off at his campaign headquarters in Paris. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/Pool Photo via AP

 

The mandate of outgoing Socialist president François Hollande officially ends at midnight on Sunday, May 14th, and he is expected to vacate the Élysée earlier that day.

On Monday, May 8th, interior minister Matthias Fekl will officially announce the result of the presidential election. The first results, which came in at 8pm French time (7pm Irish time) on Sunday, are only estimations based on the initial count from several hundred polling stations that closed an hour before.

The handover of power takes place next weekend. The ceremony follows a well-rehearsed form: Emmanuel Macron will go to the Elysée and be received in the courtyard by Hollande. After a brief chat, Hollande will leave the presidential palace accompanied by the Republican Guard.

Macron’s first engagement as president will be to pay tribute at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Arc de Triomphe and visit Paris city hall.

Then the real work begins. Macron is expected to name his prime minister around May 15th. He has said he wants to choose someone for the long term, but the position could be temporary. The president may be forced to replace his first choice with someone from an opposition party if he fails to obtain a parliamentary majority in next month’s election.

Almost zero

Macron has promised to field candidates – half of them women and half from civil society or local councils – in all 577 parliamentary constituencies, but he is starting from almost zero. He will also have to juggle his pledge to completely overhaul and renew French political life with the need to sign up some experienced political heavyweights to his government.

Before the vote Macron said he had decided on his prime minister, but refused to give a name. He will have a reduced government made up of what he described as a “commando” of 15 ministers – there are 18 at present – one-third of whom will have come from outside the current political elite, though a glance at their CVs shows many have passed through the École Nationale d’Administration .

“I want experienced people in the government, but those who come from civil society, who have legitimacy through the skills and what they have done and not necessarily from politics; there will be political personalities too,” Macron told BFMTV last week.

Of those to be recruited to his government, Macron said: “I will choose them for their experience, their competence, what they have done and not for what they represent or their political weight ...

“They will be people who are important mayors, regional or general council presidents; people who have sometimes been ministers, but who do things and who will be able to run an administration and conduct a public policy.”

Several names have been touted for prime minister, including the popular Socialist defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian , one of the first to rally to Macron’s presidential campaign, and Pascal Lamy, former director general of the World Trade Organisation.

Favourites

Macron has admitted he is hesitating over whether to appoint a female prime minister. If he does two favourites are Sylvie Goulard, an MEP from the centre Democratic Movement (MoDem), the leader of which, François Bayrou formed a surprise alliance with Macron, and Anne-Marie Idrac, a former secretary of state for transport.

Alternatively, Goulard, the former head of public transport companies RATP and SNCF, could also be given the economy ministry, Macron’s former government post. Alain Juppé, the one-time Les Républicains presidential hopeful and mayor of Bordeaux, is also reportedly being considered for the ministry.

For other ministries he is expected to fish from the Socialist and centre-right Les Républicains pools, luring experienced and respected politicians such as the former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s labour minister Xavier Bertrand from the right and the Lyon mayor Gérard Collomb from the left.

The veteran centrist Francois Bayrou, who abandoned his fourth presidential attempt to throw his weight behind Macron, will almost certainly be rewarded with a government post.

Christine Lagarde, the current IMF managing director, has also been mentioned.

By recruiting from the left, right and centre, Macron will be hoping to create a dynamism behind his En Marche!! movement with a view to winning the crucial majority he needs in legislative elections to push through his reforms.

– (Guardian service)