With a list of 23 declared presidential candidates, France’s election season is beginning to resemble that of the U.S. Today, that list almost certainly grows to 24 candidates.
On August 30th, the 38-year-old investment banker Emmanuel Macron resigned from his position as Minster of the French Economy. It’s a move that many are calling another step towards launching a campaign for the French presidency, but does it really matter? The presidential race is already full of powerhouse politicians. Is Macron what Martin O’Malley was to the Democratic primaries, or can the Macroniacs carry him to the presidency?
In the past two years, Macron has risen to be one of France’s most popular politicians. His poll numbers are more than double that of incumbent president Francois Hollande, who is widely disliked and seen as being weak. Macron has been a fierce advocate for economic overhaul, loosening work regulations, and bringing more businesses to France. However, more people from the right like Macron than the left, leaving him with an untrustworthy appearance. To win over the centrist voters he’s (probably) seeking, he’ll have to convince them that he’s not a rightist in socialist clothing. His previous job as an investment banker has left him with the difficult reputation of being an elitist.
His biggest fan is undeniably the media. Macron’s been on magazine covers and featured in newspapers around the globe. He speaks English fluently, isn’t afraid to be sarcastic, and has an interesting love life: Macron is married to his 58-year-old former high school teacher, who he’s dated since he was a teenager. He lives with her and has seven step-grandchildren who he sees regularly (Quick reminder: Macron is 38.) The strongest critique he gets from the media is that he’s not ready for the presidency (which is reasonable: he’s never held elected office).
Stepping down from his role as Minister of the French economy is hardly a first step toward a presidency. In April, he started his own political party, “En Marche!” which translates to “On the Move!” In a speech for En Marche, he told supporters, “we are the movement of hope, and we will take it all the way to 2017 and victory.” In Macon’s resignation speech, he said he would outline his “transformation plan” for France in the coming months.
Macron has done everything possible to declare his bid for the presidency without actually announcing his run. The French people and media generally seem to have faith in him, despite the fact that he is looking to do some major shake-ups in the French way of doing things. He could win, but he’s got a lot of hurdles to jump to come close.