May 17, 2017 / 2:31 PM / 2 months ago

Key ministers in new French government

7 Min Read

French President Emmanuel Macron waits for a guest on the steps at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 16, 2017.Yoan Valat/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's new government comprises a mix of socialist and conservative officials, with an equal balance between men and women as well as people from civil society.

Philippe, a 46-year-old conservative lawmaker and mayor of the Normandy seaside town of Le Havre, was appointed by French centrist President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

On Wednesday, a total of 22 ministers, including junior ministers, split equally between men and women, were named in his government.

Below is a list of the key ministers.

Interior Minister: Gerard Collomb, 69

A popular senator and mayor of Lyon, France's second-biggest city, Collomb is part of the centrist tendency of the Socialist party. He has never been a minister during his 40-year political career, but is named number two in the government protocol.

He was one of Macron's first close allies and vocal supporters among leading Socialists. He has been a staunch advocate of cross-party cooperation in running his city.

His priority in Lyon was initially focused on strengthening security. As interior minister, he will now be in charge of coordinating France's response to internal security threats including from Islamist militants who have carried out attacks on French soil.

Ecological Transition Ministry: Nicolas Hulot, 62

Former documentary TV reporter Hulot is one of France's best-known environmentalists. A pragmatist, Hulot has advised governments from the right and the left about environmental policies. He made a bid to run as Green candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but lost out to a more leftist candidate in the party's primaries.

The foundation bearing his name is a driving force for green policies in France. Former president Francois Hollande made Hulot a special envoy for the environment but could not convince him to become a minister in his government.

Hulot helped prepare the 2015 United Nations COP21 climate summit in Paris and has good relations with top French companies such as EDF, L'Oreal and Carrefour, who sponsor his foundation.

Justice Minister: Francois Bayrou, 65

Long the face of centrism in France, with three failed runs for the presidency to his name, Bayrou, was pondering whether to make a fourth run when he was overtaken by Macron's dizzy rise.

The former education minister, now mayor of Pau, gave Macron a boost in the polls in February when he decided to join the former banker's ranks, sealing an alliance. Many observers then speculated that this would be rewarded by a ministerial role for Bayrou, who founded his own Democratic Movement (MoDem) in 2007.

The self-proclaimed "man of the soil" -- a father of six and practising Roman Catholic who married at age 20 -- also breeds racehorses at his ancestral home in Borderes in the southwest of France.

European and Foreign Minister: Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69

Le Drian has been a close friend of former Socialist President Hollande for more than 40 years.

Having backed Macron early, Le Drian takes over the foreign affairs portfolio after holding the defence post for five years under Hollande. One of the few popular ministers under Hollande, Le Drian is seen as the driving force behind France's counter-terrorism operations in West Africa and the Middle East.

He is also credited with leading a resurgence in French weapons' exports that have resulted in billions of euros in deals, including the first exports of the Rafale fighter jet.

The former university history teacher has spent 35 years in politics and is president of the Brittany region.

In a signal of Macron's future priorities, the ministry has been renamed to emphasise the role of Europe in foreign policy.

Economy Minister: Bruno Le Maire, 48

Bruno Le Maire, named French economy minister, is a reform-minded conservative whose expertise on Europe and staunch defence of the Franco-German relationship will prove valuable as Macron pushes for closer EU integration.

A pro-European, German-speaking rightist, Le Maire came second to ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy for the leadership of the The Republicans party in 2014 and finished fifth in the right-wing presidential primaries last year.

After an early career as a diplomat, he held successive portfolois under Sarkozy - first European and then agriculture.

He will be supported in his new role by another conservative, 34-year-old Gerald Darmanin, a Republicans vice-president and former Sarkozy ally, who will be budget minister.


A European lawmaker who speaks four languages, Goulard is a respected operator in Brussels, having acted as adviser to former European Commission president Romano Prodi.

She is the number three in the government hierarchy and will be key to pushing wider European defence cooperation.

Goulard was born in Marseille and is a graduate of France's elite ENA school of government.

Minister of Territorial Cohesion: Richard Ferrand, 54

A Socialist lawmaker who steered Macron's flagship deregulation bill through parliament in 2015, he was one of the first parliamentarians to join the young centrist's movement.

Born to a plasterer and a shop assistant in the southwestern town of Rodez, he combines impeccable working-class credentials with experience of the private sector - he turned around the bankrupt Mutuelles de Bretagne health insurance company - and an understanding of the inner workings of government as a former cabinet adviser.

Junior Minister for Europe: Marielle De Sarnez, 66

De Sarnez is the right-hand woman of Francois Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Modem party who gave up his bid for the presidency to back Macron. She will be a junior minister under Le Drian.

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.

Government Spokesman: Christophe Castaner, 51

The Socialist lawmaker, who briefly worked as a legal adviser for the bank BNP Paribas, was one of Macron's main message-bearers on morning radio shows and TV channels.

In regional council elections in 2015, he withdrew his candidacy in the National Front (FN) stronghold of Provence, helping his conservative rival to become council president and shutting out the FN candidate, Marine Le Pen's niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen.

Reporting by John Irish, Brian Love, Sybille de La Hamaide, Ingrid Melander, Dominique Vidalon, Andrew Callus, Adrian Croft, Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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