PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron is building a new government with a fresh face — lean, half-female and tasked with carrying out his plans to rethink labor laws and overhaul politics.
The government will be formally presented on Wednesday. Macron’s office is delaying the announcement, initially expected Tuesday, while authorities check the tax records and backgrounds of potential ministers, in an effort to prevent any potential conflict of interest.
Macron, who won the May 7 runoff on promises of cleaning up the corruption and stagnation marking traditional parties, said he will require ministers to sign a commitment to “integrity and morality.”
In his second full day in office, Macron also hosted a delegation from the International Olympic Committee in the Elysee Palace, a symbolically important gesture of support for the French capital’s bid in its heated race against Los Angeles for the 2024 Games.
Macron’s main task Tuesday, however, is choosing ministers who will form his new a government after naming low-profile, center-right Edouard Philippe as prime minister Monday.
It’s a delicate balancing act, as the centrist Macron tries to redesign French politics by borrowing ministers from left and right, and combining new faces with experienced heavyweights who can help him make his mark on Europe and world affairs.
Their new government is expected to be half women, half men, and with about half the number of ministers that former President Francois Hollande’s Cabinet had.
Among names circulating as potential ministers are TV personality and environmental activist Nicolas Hulot; Axelle Tessandier, who created a startup in San Francisco before joining Macron’s campaign; center-right European lawmaker Sylvie Goulard; and prominent centrist party leader Francois Bayrou.
Outgoing Defense 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.
On his first foreign trip after barely 24 hours in office, Macron met Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and pushed for more coordination among countries that use the euro.
On Tuesday, Macron pushed the Paris Olympic bid with a visiting IOC delegation. Macron said he would go to Lausanne, Switzerland, for a key IOC meeting in July and he may go to Lima, Peru, in September, where the committee makes its final decision.
“This discussion left no doubt about the fact that the Paris bid is enjoying extremely strong support from all public authorities,” Patrick Baumann, head of the IOC evaluation commission told reporters after the meeting.
Winning the games would be a big boost for France after years of fading global influence — and a boost for Macron as the untested 39-year-old president embarks on his term and risky effort to reinvigorate the French economy.
Meanwhile, criticism from Socialists and conservative Republicans met Macron’s nomination of Philippe as prime minister. The traditional parties fear being sidelined by Macron’s growing centrist party Republic on the Move in crucial parliamentary elections next month.
Macron “wants to create a majority by exploding the right as he exploded the left,” senior Republicans lawmaker Bernard Accoyer told the France-2 TV station Tuesday.
The new government may only serve for a few weeks. If Macron’s party doesn’t win a majority in parliamentary elections June 11 and 18, then he might have to form a coalition and adjust the makeup of the government, or have a government led by an opposition party.
Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.