French right torn apart as Emmanuel Macron, PM prepare to name government

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil his cabinet on Tuesday, a delicate balancing act for the centrist who has promised to include faces from the left and right as well as political newcomers.

France's youngest ever president has already attracted dozens of Socialist MPs to his side as he seeks to create a new centrist force in French politics that will marginalise the traditional parties of left and right.

Outgoing defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a Socialist, may keep his post to ensure continuity in French military operations against Islamic extremists in Syria, Iraq and Africa.

Bruno Le Maire, a German-speaking pro-European from the center-right Republicans party, was appointed finance minister.

"Macron has tried to strike a fine political balance to maximize his chances of building a majority, while making sure the new government has enough competent figures to launch reforms", Antonio Barroso, deputy director of research at Teneo Intelligence, said in a note. Television presenter Nicolas Hulot was recruited to the ecology ministry and Gerald Darmanin, another Republican, was named budget minister.

Sylvie Goulard, a centrist European Union lawmaker, was named defense minister.

Macron, in his third day in office, will host European Council President Donald Tusk at the Elysee Palace for a private dinner.

Francois Bayrou, head of the centrist Democratic Movement who rallied to Macron during the first round of the presidential election, was appointed justice minister.

The fledgling party of France's new president has largely ignored applicants in overseas territories aspiring to be candidates in next month's election of a new French National Assembly.

Drawing wide support across the political spectrum will be key as Macron seeks a legislative victory in parliamentary elections in June.

Goulard previously worked as an adviser to Romano Prodi when Prodi served as president of the European Commission - the executive arm of the EU.

Looking ahead to her meeting with Macron, she added: "I will say first let us have openness, to find things in common, and not start with everything that can't be done".

More than 170 lawmakers from the right have signed a statement of support for Mr Macron after he named Republican Edouard Philippe as prime minister.

Another appointment with a clear pro-EU tint was that of close Macron ally Sylvie Goulard, a liberal member of the European parliament, who succeeded Le Drian in the Defence Ministry.

In the opposite camp, the Socialists have shown greater readiness to work with Macron, who quit the departing Socialist government to run for president.

The Republic on the Move secretary-general Richard Ferrand told French radio that Mr Macron wanted to "bring people together, beyond old divides that have become pointless".

The first cabinet meeting takes place Thursday at 10 am London time.

  • Leroy Wright