France’s new president is pushing Paris’ bid for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday and building a government with a fresh face — lean, half-female and tasked with carrying out his plans to rethink labor laws and overhaul politics.
In his second full day in office, Emmanuel Macron 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 said he would go to Lausanne, Switzerland, for a key IOC meeting in July and 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.
Macron’s main task Tuesday, however, is forming a new a government after naming low-profile, center-right Edouard Philippe as prime minister Monday.
It’s a delicate balancing act, as 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.
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.
Back at home, 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.
And far-right leader Marine Le Pen, runner-up in the May 7 presidential runoff, said Macron and Philippe represent “the sacred alliance of the old right and left, united in their wish to remain in place at any price.”
Their new government is expected to be half women, half men, and about half the size of former President Francois Hollande’s Cabinet. It will hold its first meeting Wednesday.
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.
However the 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.