NEW president Emmanuel Macron has appointed a relatively unknown 46-year-old, Edouard Philippe, as prime minister, making good on campaign promises to repopulate French politics with new faces.

Alexis Kohler, Macron’s new general secretary at the Elysee Palace, made the announcement. Philippe is the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre and is a trained lawyer and an author of political thrillers.

He is also a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party, whose candidate, Francois Fillon, came third behind Macron and the Front National’s Marine le Pen in the first round of voting in the presidential election.

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Philippe’s appointment ticks several boxes for Macron, 39 and France’s youngest president, who took power on Sunday. His age reinforces the generational shift in France’s corridors of power and the image of youthful vigour that Macron is cultivating. He could also attract other Republicans to Macron’s cause as the centrist president works to piece together a majority in parliament to pass his promised economic reforms.

Philippe is close to Alain Juppe, a former prime minister who campaigned for the French presidency, but was beaten in a primary. Reacting to Philippe’s appointment, Juppe called the new prime minister “a man of great talent” with “all the qualities to handle the difficult job”.

Philippe served as Juppe’s campaign spokesman during the Republicans’ party primary. When Juppe was beaten, Philippe switched his support to Fillon, but then quit the campaign when prosecutors started investigating allegations that Fillon’s family benefited illegally from cushy taxpayer-funded jobs.

Following the announcement of Philippe’s appointment, Macron travelled to Berlin on his first foreign trip. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed him to the chancellery with a handshake ahead of a military honours ceremony.

Germany is traditionally the first foreign destination for new French presidents.

A large group of onlookers, some carrying European flags, stood outside as Macron arrived.