Macron starts making presidential plans

PARIS: In his first official engagement after winning Sunday’s presidential election, Emmanuel Macron joined outgoing President Francois Hollande in laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier underneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The two men stood side by side as a band played the “Marseillaise” – France’s national anthem – and a song associated with the partisans who fought German occupation forces, on the 72nd anniversary of the allied victory in World War II.
Hollande greeted Macron warmly as Monday’s ceremonies began, while his successor, who was attacked by rivals during the election campaign as the unpopular socialist president’s anointed heir, smiled stiffly.
Hollande confirmed that the official transfer of power would take place on Sunday.
Speaking to media afterwards, he said that, if Macron at any point needed “any information, any advice, any experience … I will always be at his side.”
A close ally of Macron meanwhile said that the incoming president’s “first visit to a foreign country” after his inauguration – expected to take place on Sunday – would be to German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Macron might, however, first of all “go to greet French troops” serving abroad, as he promised during the campaign, liberal European Parliament member Sylvie Goulard told C-News television.
Merkel and Macron conducted a telephone conversation late Sunday after the result was announced, according to Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman.
Merkel told Macron that she is “looking forward to trustful cooperation … in the spirit of the traditionally close Franco-German friendship,” Seibert said. Macron has vowed to strengthen the Berlin-Paris alliance, which is at the heart of the EU’s politics.
He says his planned economic reforms, which have already run into opposition from the left and trade unions, will restore France’s credibility as an equal partner for Germany.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife in French media about whom Macron will choose as his prime minister, with names such as Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, and Sylvie Goulard, a member of the European Parliament, being discussed. — dpa