France president election: Who is Emmanuel Macron, the man poised to defeat Trump-like candidate Marine Le Pen

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Published: April 24, 2017 1:08:12 PM

Presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron's political career is the stuff that dreams are made of. After the first round of voting in France, Macron stands at the pole position and looks set to fend off the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

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Presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron’s political career is the stuff that dreams are made of. After the first round of voting in France, Macron stands at the pole position and looks set to fend off the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. The 39-year-old former banker looks close to the Elysee Palace because according to the polls, he is all set to do something right next to impossible. Six months, or maybe a year ago, it would have been called highly unlikely that someone could reach the top position of the race, without the support of two major political parties in France. Macron, is unabashedly centrist, in the current far-right world and his success will mean an epochal upheaval in French politics. Though he has won only 23.7 percent of the ‘first choice’ votes, his political audacity is something to be remembered. Many believe that he is currently the best bet to open up a chance for liberal, progressive and pro-European reforms in the country. He is relatable to many French voters who are a witness to the chaos, that has been a result of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election in the US. While far-right and far-left has been busy making pronouncements against Muslim codes in the country, he has been openly defending the immigration process.

Macron, formerly with the President Francois Hollande’s government, had resigned last year, and went on to launch his own party called En Marche! His movement was criticised my many, yet now with hundreds of thousands of signed up members, he is vying for the top spot. He is faced with Front National’s Marin Le Pen, who is another outsider. Indeed, this has been one of the most unpredictable of elections in the history of France. While the hugely unpopular Hollande became the first president to not run for the second term, his own successor in the party, Benoit Hamn was placed fifth on the list, even lower than Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far-left candidate.

 

Macron’s success is based on his portrayal as a socialist-liberal who is a young, fresh face and presents a sober brand of politics. Everything about him contradicts Le Pen’s nationalistic, xenophobic, and anti-globalisation campaign. His manifesto reportedly includes cutting down on taxes and expenditures, though providing support to low-income groups. He has also promised to cut corporation tax and red tape, which became highly controversial. People, however, trust his policies and think that they will pick up France’s moribund economy. Notably, regarding unemployment, which has been one of the most important issues in the election, Macron has vowed to bring it down to 7 percent from 10 percent. The only people who may act a deterrent to his victory, are the blue collared workers who are against his open support for EU and globalisation. His standpoint on these issues will likely cost him votes on both the far-right and far-left spectrum. These dissatisfied voters are flocking towards Le Pen who is all for the Brexit-like EU referendum, immigration suspension and similar ideas. He biggest challenge will, however, lie with the apathetic electorate who think his policies are vague, but at least less dangerous than those of Le Pen. If he can convince them, not much can stop him from his position at the Elysee Palace.

Also read | France Presidential election: Candidates, voting system, issues, EU impact and everything you need to know, explained

Macron and Le Pen will go through to a run-off election on May 7. If Macron defeats Le Pen, it will be remarkable, since he was almost an unknown person who Hollande had dug up from somewhere in 2014 to make him the Economy minister. Macron is a graduate from the prestigious Paris Po university from where he went on to join the civil services. Macron became a banker at Rothschild & Cie bank, after serving for a few years in the French treasury. Later Hollande had made him his deputy chief of staff. The most interesting thing about Macron is that, despite being from a middle-class family and having studied mostly in catholic schools, he went ahead and married his high school drama teacher, who is 24 years older than him. He was married in the year 2007 and stays in Paris with his wife and three kids.

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