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France’s Macron to name PM on first full day in office

New French President Emmanuel Macron is set to name a Prime Minister and visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his first full day in office today.

The 39-year-old centrist leader laid out his ambitious plans for France as he took power on Sunday, promising to restore France’s shattered self-confidence and help rebuild the flagging European Union.

His choice of PM will be crucial for the first task, with the 46-year-old centre-right Edouard Philippe from the Republicans party seen as the favourite for the job.

Picking him would send a clear signal that Macron hopes to attract other young modernisers from the Republicans to his new centrist party, Republic on the Move (REM), which will contest parliamentary elections in June.

“If the PM comes from the right, Emmanuel Macron will be able to attack the parliamentary elections by dynamiting the right, in the same way he has done to the left,” political expert Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet said.

Macron, who was Economy Minister under outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande, has already attracted dozens of centre-left MPs to his movement as he reshapes French political life.

Without his own parliamentary majority, the former investment banker will find it hard to push through his planned reforms of the labour market, pensions, unemployment benefits and education.

“I will not reverse course on any of the commitments taken in front of the French people,” Macron said on Sunday as he took power from Hollande, his former mentor, adding that “France is strong only if she is prosperous”.

Philippe is the mayor of the gritty northern port of Le Havre and an MP for the region since 2012 who studied at the same universities as Macron and shares many of his views on the economy and social issues.

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