France's Macron to reshuffle govt after huge parliament win

Sylvie Corbet - Associated Press
France's Macron to reshuffle govt after huge parliament win

French President Emmanuel Macron and Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier, right, watch demonstration flights as part of the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Monday, June 19, 2017. Macron landed Monday at the Bourget airfield in an Airbus A400-M military transport plane to launch the aviation showcase, where the latest Boeing and Airbus passenger jets will vie for attention with a F-35 warplane, drones and other and high-tech hardware. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Pool)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is poised to rearrange his Cabinet after his new centrist party engineered a landslide in the country's parliamentary election, enabling the government to quickly start passing its first big laws.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe formally resigned on yesterday afternoon, a largely symbolic move required after a legislative election. He was immediately renamed to his job and is in charge of forming a government by Wednesday afternoon, the French presidency said in a statement.

Since Macron's new party, Republic on the Move!, won an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly, government spokesman Christophe Castaner said on RTL radio the government reshuffle would be "technical and not far-reaching." He refused to say whether ministers who have come under suspicion of corruption would keep their jobs.

Macron's plans have been slightly delayed by an attempted attack yesterday afternoon on security forces on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb went to the scene and said he will present a bill Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting to extend France's state of emergency from July 15, its current expiration date, until Nov. 1. He will also talk about a new law aiming at maintaining "a high security level" beyond the end of the state of emergency.

After Macron vigorously campaigned on a promise to renew France's political landscape, other parties also made efforts to promote new faces. The victorious newcomers started arriving yesterday at the National Assembly to learn their way around before the first parliament session next week.

The National Assembly says new lawmakers' average age is down from 55 in the previous term to 49 now. The youngest is 23, the oldest 79. The number of female lawmakers is the highest ever in France's lower house of parliament, reaching 38.7 percent — up from 26.8 percent. Three-quarters are starting their first term at the National Assembly. Some previously had local political experience, but many are newcomers to politics.

Republic on the Move! and its allies from the Modem party took 350 seats — far more than the 289 needed for a majority, according to the Interior Ministry's definitive results.

Macron's government is expected to pass its first set of measures during a special parliamentary session starting on June 27 — laws to strengthen security, improve ethics in politics and reform France's restrictive labor laws.

The conservative Republicans and their allies are the main opposition group in parliament, winning 136 seats. The Socialist Party, which dominated the outgoing Assembly, was the main loser in Sunday's vote, winning only 30 seats. Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon's party won 17 seats, over the minimum of 15 needed to form a group, a tool that provides extra funds and speaking time.

The far-right party National Front won 8 seats — up from two in the outgoing Assembly — including one for its leader, Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen on yesterday praised Sunday's vote as "historic" result but denounced an "anti-democratic voting system" that she says doesn't represent the "real weight" of her party in the country.

The National Front won 8.75 percent of the votes nationwide, which is more than the Socialists and Melenchon's far-left party, yet it has fewer seats.

"We're worth at least 80 (seats) in my opinion, given the energy we will use to promote our views," Le Pen told a news conference.

Others agree that France's current two-round voting system favors mainstream parties and their allies. Collomb said the government wants to reduce the number of lawmakers in the future and change the voting system to introduce a partial proportional representation, which would give smaller parties better representation.

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