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article imageFirst tensions in Macron's government 'calmed'

By AFP     Jun 14, 2017 in Politics

The first tensions in French President Emmanuel Macron's cross-party government have been resolved following talks between the prime minster and justice minister who clashed this week, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Centrist Justice Minister Francois Bayrou faced criticism for calling a director of state-funded Radio France last week to complain about coverage of alleged expenses fraud at his MoDem party.

Bayrou defended himself from allegations of trying to pressure journalists by saying he had called as a "citizen," not as minister, but he was publicly reprimanded by rightwing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

"Every time there is something to say, I'll say it," Bayrou replied defiantly on Tuesday.

Macron appointed a rainbow government of rightwingers, centrists and former Socialists after his victory in the presidential election last month as he sought to broaden his appeal as far as possible.

The tactic appears to have worked, with his Republic On The Move (REM) party set for a landslide in parliamentary elections this weekend, but managing the different factions will be one of his challenges.

Bayrou, a veteran centrist who ran unsuccessfully for president three times, dropped out of the presidential race in February to throw his support behind the 39-year-old.

Relations have frayed once already over the selection of candidates for the parliamentary elections after Bayrou accused REM of leaving too few constituencies available for members of his MoDem party.

"Today, the situation is completely calmed down in my opinion," government spokesman Christophe Castaner told a briefing on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.

"There were no exchanges that suggested there was tension."

Macron's year-old REM and its allies are tipped to clean up in the second round of an election for the 577-member lower house of parliament on Sunday, winning up to 445 seats.

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