French president names mix of faces to left-right government

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron named his cabinet on Wednesday, appointing veteran Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian to foreign affairs and a rightwinger as economy minister in a team that cuts across traditional party lines.

Macron hosted European Council President Donald Tusk at the Elysee Palace for a private dinner on Wednesday night, a sign of his determination to shore up European unity. Her father survived the Holocaust.

"He always said his government will have gender parity with people from various political backgrounds and from civil society", Richard Ferrand, Macron's campaign chief, said on France Inter radio Tuesday.

A minister for agriculture under ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, Le Maire made a failed bid for the Republicans presidential nomination past year when he finished a disappointing fifth. Pro-Israel activists in France regard him as a staunch ally and defender of the Jewish state, according to the right-leaning news site Alyaexpress.

Unpopular Hollande was the first to bow to the rebellious mood in December as he became the first sitting president not to seek re-election in the French fifth republic, founded in 1958.

François Fillon, former prime minister of France and a practicing Catholic, shocked pundits and political commentators throughout the country when he pulled ahead in the Republican party and beat out the moderate former Prime Minister Alain Juppé (himself a self-described "agnostic Catholic") by a wide margin.

Macron won one of the most unpredictable French elections in modern history marked by scandal, repeated surprises and a last-minute hacking attack on his campaign.

Like Macron, France's new prime minister has little truck with the entrenched left-right divide.

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

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French President Emmanuel Macron waits to welcome UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Tuesday, May 16, 2017.

Second in command after the centre-right Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, is long-time Partie Socialist member and Lyon mayor Gerard Collomb, who supported Mr. Macron's presidency.

"I am not handing over power to a political opponent, it's far simpler", Hollande said on Thursday.

Nicolas Hulot, a highly-popular former wildlife documentary TV presenter, seen as the Gallic David Attenborough, was named Environment Minister.

The armed forces are now led by centrist, pro-European Sylvie Goulard, 52.

He is also a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party that was badly battered by Mr Macron's victory in the presidential campaign.

And he asked Macron also to "contribute to the cooperation and solidarity among nations", and to continue to promote "in Europe and in the world the search for peace and common good, the respect of life and the defense of dignity of each person".

The pair now at the center of the European project vowed to give it new impetus, saying they were ready to change treaties if necessary.

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