Newly-inaugurated French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed a conservative prime minister in a move to broaden his political appeal and weaken his opponents before legislative elections in June.
Edouard Philippe, 46, a politician and mayor of port city Le Havre, is from the moderate wing of the main centre-right The Republicans party and will be a counterweight to former Socialist MPs who have joined Mr Macron’s cause.
Elysee secretary-general Alexis Kohler made the announcement on the steps of the presidential palace.
Mr Macron has vowed to end the left-right politics which have dominated France for decades, and his start-up centrist Republic on the Move (REM) party, which is just a year old, needs to find a wide base of support for the parliamentary elections.
Mr Philippe is a close associate of former prime minister Alain Juppe, who leads the moderate wing of The Republicans and has indicated that he favoured helping Mr Macron.
His appointment could draw more defectors from The Republicans.
On the other side of the political divide, Mr Macron’s decision not to put up an REM candidate to oppose former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls in his constituency ties Mr Valls closer and makes it hard for a divided left to re-unite.