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All you need to know about France's new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe

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All you need to know about France's new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe
Photo: AFP
15:58 CEST+02:00
Emmanuel Macron has named Edouard Philippe as his new prime minister but what do we know about him, apart from the fact he likes boxing.
He is fairly young
 
Aged 46, Edouard Phillippe, is not much older than Macron himself, who became the youngest ever French president at 39 years-old. 
 
He has been elected
 
He has been mayor of Le Havre in Normandy since 2010 and a member of the National Assembly representing the 7th constituency of Seine-Maritime since 2012.
 
His education is similar to Macron's
 
Like Macron, Philippe was born in northern France. While Macron is from Amiens, Philippe is from the cathedral city of Rouen in Normandy.
 
He graduated from Sciences-Po university before going on to study at the prestigious Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA) in 1997, just like France's new president. The elite grande ecole now based in Strasbourg is where many of France's leaders have graduated from, including François Hollande.
 
He used to be in the Socialist Party
 
Brought up by teachers, his early political life began with an allegiance to the Socialist Party, where he originally identified with the social democratic wing of the party. 
 
During his time at Sciences Po he was influenced by, and campaigned for, Michel Rocard, who served as Prime Minister under Socialist President François Mitterrand from 1988 to 1991.
 
"I was brought up in a left wing environment, and he had a social democratic side which suited me," Philippe said in a previous interview with Le Point.
 
But after Rocard lost his position as leader of the Socialist party, Philippe started moving towards the right.
 
Like Macron he has worked in the private sector
 
Philippe has worked in the American law firm Debevoise & Plimpton firm and then as a lobbyist for state nuclear group Areva.
 
 
 
He has reportedly been scolded for not providing a complete declaration of wealth
 
According to French news site Mediapart, Philippe landed in hot water with France's High Authority on Transparency in Public Life (HATVP) for failing to provide a complete declaration of his wealth in 2014. 
 
Regarding the value of his properties in Paris and Seine-Maritime in Normandy, the mayor of Le Havre responded that he had "no idea". Despite reminders from the HATVP, Philippe refused to estimate what his properties were worth. This doesn't exactly fit in with Macron's promise to moralize and clean up French politics.
 
He swam across the dock in Le Havre 
 
In 2015, Philippe showed he was a man of his word by sticking to his promise to swim the bassin du commerce in Le Havre in celebration of the unification of Normandy's two regions, as a result of Francois Hollande's redrawing of the country's administrative map.
 
Luckily for him, the water was a fairly mild 16 degrees.  
 
He has an "arrogant" side
 
Philippe is sporty, multi-lingual and known to be an intellectual, but is also seen by some critics as aloof or even arrogant.
 
"Intelligent, lively and at times a bit crazy," one insider who worked with him in the Republicans party told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that he had a tendency to be "brusque" with colleagues.
 
"He's not easy to get to know," a local politician in his native Normandy region also said on condition of anonymity, adding that Philippe "doesn't have massive warmth" despite having many qualities.
 
A book last year on Juppe by journalist Gael Tchakaloff was brutal, describing Philippe as having "arrogance, an excess of self-confidence and ambitions beyond all proportion".
 
A family man
 
Philippe is married with three children. While he is known for keeping his private life very private, we do know that his wife Edith is a teacher at Sciences Po university.
 
 
Boxing enthusiast
 
He has attributed this passion to reading American author Jack London who covered fights for boxing magazines in the US, as well as seeing Rocky and Raging Bull. 
 
He has been boxing three times a week for two and a half years, a fact which has been confirmed by his boxing teacher who also praised his "physical endurance and good technique".   
 
Author of political fiction
 
Like Emmanuel Macron, Philippe is more than just your average politician. Both men are in fact published authors.
 
While Macron has written his campaign book "Revolution", as well as three other books including one about the Aztecs and  a classic love story, Philippe is the author of two books on political fiction: "L'Heure de Vérité and "Dans l'ombre".
 
It makes sense then that he is himself a big reader and has an active imagination. "When I was younger, I used to imagine the answers I would give to journalists' questions," Philippe said in one interview. 
 
 
He is a "Juppéiste"
 
Known for his close relationship with Jacques Chirac's ex-prime minister, Alain Juppé, Philippe participated in the creation of the centre-right UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party alongside his mentor in 2002, marking the end of his links to the Socialist party.
 
During an "eight and a half minute-long" meeting, Juppé explained to the young Philippe "how he would like everything to work, how they would organise the party, what the plan was, and how he would work with collaborators", Philippe told French newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche, according to France TV.
 
Philippe joined the private sector when Juppé departed for Canada after being handed a suspended prison sentence for corruption offences. But three years later he was back working with Juppé as part of his team when Juppé was named Minister of State, Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development in François Fillon's government. 
 
He also acted as one of Juppé's spokespeople during the latter's failed campaign to win the Republicans party primary last November.
 
 
Philippe walked out on Fillon
 
When Republicans candidate François Fillon refused to step aside after being charged over the fake jobs scandal, despite having promised to do so, Philippe walked away insisting Fillon should have stuck to his word.
 
He has not always believed in Macron...
 
In another interview with L'Opinion in September 2016, he said: "There are two Macrons. The Macron of speeches – whom I often agree with -- and there is the Macron of actions, whom we cannot say has achieved anything considerable."
 
Philippe said that Macron "does not take responsibility for anything but promises everything", when writing a chronicle of the election campaign for Liberation.
 
But his views are compatible with the new president...
 
Ideologically speaking, Philippe and Macron are similar. In 2016, the potential prime minister said in an interview that "Macron thinks 90 percent the same way as me".
 
He likes music and The Godfather
 
Philippe is big fan of British rock band Dire Straits, as well as US veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen. His favourite film is The Godfather.
 
*An earlier version of this article wrongly stated Alain Juppé was sentenced to prison for 18 months, in fact it was a suspended prison sentence. 
 

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