France's Macron holds 1st Cabinet meeting; half are women

France's Macron holds 1st Cabinet meeting; half are women

France's Macron holds 1st Cabinet meeting; half are women

Half of the appointees announced Wednesday are men and half are women.

Bruno Le Maire, 48, a former agriculture minister and presidential contender for the conservative Republicans party, was appointed as economy minister, with Gérald Darmanin, 34, a fellow Republican, as budget minister.

To make sure he ends up with a workable majority, surrounding himself with people tempted away from both sides of the political divide broadens his support and weakens the main traditional parties, LR and the Socialists.

Current Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to be the only survivor from the government of Francois Hollande, who left office last weekend after an unpopular five-year term. High profile rightwinger Bruno Le Maire was named economy minister - one of three conservatives in the Cabinet.

He has promised a gender-balanced cabinet and there are suggestions it could include figures from civil society, economists, judges and entrepreneurs as well as politicians.

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Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel was named sports minister, star environmentalist Nicolas Hulot - who had spurned multiple offers of cabinet roles from previous presidents - accepted the ecology brief and crusading publisher Francoise Nyssen took charge of culture. Macron named a mix of prominent and unknown figu.

"We have to deliver, put aside those little politicians' quarrels, those sectarian divisions, which lead us nowhere. making space for debate, for rapid and constructive decisions", Le Maire said as he took over his job.

Macron wants deeper security cooperation with Europe, but he may find it hard to break the mould of predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ahead of legislative elections in June, Republican campaign manager François Baroin accused Mr Macron of "dynamiting not political reshaping".

A popular senator and mayor of Lyon, France's second-biggest city, Collomb is part of the centrist tendency of the Socialist party.

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In the list appeared Sylvie Goulard, a centrist European Union lawmaker, in charge of defense affairs, Agnes Buzyn, solidarity and health minister and Muriel Penicaud, a minister in charge of employment issue. One diplomat said the changes in president and ministers would enable a review of Paris' positioning on key issues such as the crises in Syria and Libya.

Sylvie Goulard, a centrist MEP, was named Defence Minister.

She also worked as a political adviser to Italian politician Romano Prodi when he was president of the European Commission from 2001 to 2004.

An expert on Europe, she has been a member of the European parliament since 1999 and was campaign director for Bayrou's unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign.

Elysee Palace secretary general Alexis Kohler concluded the announcement by saying that Macron would bring the ministers together for their first government meeting on Thursday.

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