Macron starts second term with challenges mounting

5 days ago 32

PARIS (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron formally begins his second term in office on Saturday (May 14), maintaining suspense about his new government ahead of parliamentary elections next month that will shape his next five years in power.

The 44-year-old scored a solid victory in April 24 presidential polls against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, but still needs a majority in parliament to be able to push through his domestic reform agenda.

The identity of Macron's new government is expected to set the tone for campaigning, with the president suggesting he intends to name only the second woman prime minister in modern French history.

Speculation has been rife in the French media, with Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay and current Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne seen as possible candidates, but Macron has taken his time to name a replacement for outgoing Premier Jean Castex.

"It's been decided, but no one knows who it is," a presidential adviser told AFP on condition of anonymity.

An announcement is expected early next week.

Macron's Republic on the Move party has been renamed Renaissance ahead of the parliamentary polls on June 12 and 19, with several centrist and centre-right parties set to compete under the collective pro-Macron banner of "Together".

France's splintered left-wing parties have also agreed a tie-up under the leadership of former Trotskyist Jean-Luc Melenchon who has set his sights on a parliamentary majority to thwart Macron's plans.

"To go from around 60 MPs (in the current parliament) to a majority is highly improbable, but the dynamic created by the new union could mean they make major progress," Frederic Dabi, head of the Ifop polling group, told AFP this week.

Le Pen's National Rally and France's ailing mainstream right-wing party, the Republicans, are also hoping to bounce back from thei...

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