Hollande warns Macron as France heads for political shake-up

"Lots remains to be done," the outgoing president told his successor ahead of Sunday's formal handover of power.

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Hollande warns Macron as France heads for political shake-up

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France’s outgoing president and his successor have appeared together in Paris ahead of the formal handover of power on Sunday. François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron stood side by side at a ceremony in Paris to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

After an emotional final cabinet meeting at the Elysée, Hollande told the gathering in the Luxembourg Gardens that it would now be his successor’s task to continue the duty of remembrance and prepare the future.

“We need to continue to fight against the divisions which tear people apart, including those here, against speeches which set people against each other, against fundamentalists, obscurantists and those who practise communitarianism. Lots still remains to be done… Mr President,” the outgoing leader said, pausing before wryly uttering the last two words, to the amusement of the audience.

The winner of Sunday’s vote has been working behind the scenes on the make-up of his future government.

The former finance minister is expected to name his prime minister on Monday, and announce a new government the following day with around fifteen ministers and several more junior ministers.

Ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections several figures from the mainstream right and left have indicated they are ready to work with Macron – amid turmoil within their respective parties.

The president-elect’s team have not welcomed with open arms Manuel Valls, the ex-Socialist prime minister who backs Macron and on Tuesday said he wanted to stand in the elections for his start-up party, soon to be official re-named “La République en marche” (The Republic on the move).

Valls has been told he must join the president-elect’s movement if he wants to run under its banner, and that at the moment he does not “fit the criteria”. Macron stood on a platform of political renewal and will want to refute criticism from the right that he will be Hollande’s “heir”.

The president-elect’s party is due to announce its list of candidates for the June elections this Thursday.

Earlier on Wednesday, François Hollande – still at the helm for now – presided over his final cabinet meeting, where ministers described an emotional farewell.

The outgoing president hinted that he would not be leaving public life behind. “Politics is the life of France, politics represents the essential choices for the country and so no-one can put themselves aside from that,” Hollande said, adding that he wanted to remain “useful”.

There was a veiled warning for Macron from the government’s main spokesman, Stéphane Le Foll. While the president-elect intended to pass labour reforms via parliamentary ordonnance – a simplified process for enacting laws – Hollande had stressed the importance of social dialogue during his five-year term, Le Foll said. Each time that was forgotten it risked being costly, he added.

The fallout after Sunday’s presidential run-off is continuing apace. The Socialist candidate defeated in the first round, Benoît Hamon, said he would set up a new political movement in the party after several of his campaign proposals were rejected.

Sunday’s defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has said that she “profoundly regrets” the withdrawal of her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen from politics. The 27-year-old, one of only two National Front (FN) representatives in the outgoing parliament, said on Tuesday that she would be leaving for a while for personal and political reasons.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the radical left has accused the head of the Communist Party of lying, following the breakdown of negotiations with his movement “La France insoumise” (translated variously as “unsubmissive”, “defiant” or “disobedient” France) over a potential alliance in the parliamentary vote.