Europe

France Presidential Election: Portrait of Emmanuel Macron

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, 39, a former investment banker who has never held elected office, is France’s new president.

Here’s everything you need to know about the rising star of French politics.

Who is he?

Emmanuel Macron is a relative newcomer to French politics, but can the 39-year-old become president?

Education

The son of two doctors, Mr Macron was raised in the Picardy town of Amiens and attended the La Providence Jesuit school in his home town before moving to Paris to pass his baccalaureate at the renowned Lycée Henri-IV, followed by Science Po, the political sciences school.

A prize-winning pianist, he also has a Masters in philosophy, reflected in his speeches, and was at one stage assistant to the celebrated philosopher Paul Ricoeur.

Like President Francois Hollande, he then went onto study at l’ENA, France’s hothouse for future civil servants and political leaders, coming in the top 15 of a graduation class containing a string of figures who went on to take up key political roles in France.

Political career

After taking up a prestigious post at the French treasury, he served as deputy rapporteur for the commission to improve French growth headed by Jacques Attali, a former advisor to President Mitterrand, who was bowled over by his intelligence and self-assurance, predicting he had the “stuff of presidents”.

But in 2008, Mr Macron then dropped the civil service to join Rothschild bank, rapidly becoming an associate, and helping to seal a multibillion-pound deal between Nestlé and Pfizer, reportedly racking up about €2 million (£1.7m).

When he joined Mr Hollande at the Elysée Palace as pro-business deputy secretary general, advising him on economic reform, the French press dubbed the newcomer the “Mozart of the Elysée”.

In 2014, Mr Hollande made him the youngest economy minister in France since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who went on to become president. Mr Macron quit last summer to form his own party.

“I’ve seen the emptiness of our political system from the inside … I reject this system,” he said in a recent speech, calling for a “democratic revolution” but without providing any detailed action plan.

Who is he married to?

Mr Macron is married to divorcee Brigitte, a chocolate maker heiress and some 24 years his senior – a relationship that has intrigued the French public.

The pair met when he was 15 and she was Brigitte Trogneux, a married mother of three and his French and drama teacher. Braving the disapproval of his parents, who sent him to Paris, the pair wed in 2007 with the extended family present. She has three children from her first marriage and seven grandchildren.

Controversies?

The couple have publicly quashed persistent rumours that he was having a homosexual affair, which he accused the entourage of former president Nicolas Sarkozy of starting.

What does he stand for?

Mr Macron insists he is “neither of the Left or the Right” but “for France”.

In his book Revolution, published in November last year, Mr Macron describes himself as both Left-wing and a “liberal”.

A pro-business reformist, he is firmly on the Left on social issues, including on the freedom to practise religion in a secular state, equality and immigration.

How does he want to change France?

Unveiling his manifesto in March, Mr Macron said he hoped to entice British business and banks to relocate to Paris, promising a substantial reduction in corporation tax to 25pc from its current 33.3pc.

More Blair than Thatcher, staunch Europhile Mr Macron has pledged to reduce public spending by €60bn and cut 120,000 public sector jobs.

He has also vowed to get tough on unemployment benefits for those who repeatedly turned down job offers and wants greater flexibility on the retirement age, currently 60, and the statutory 35-hour working week, allowing employers and staff more latitude to negotiate.

In a headline-grabbing sweetener, he said 80pc of households would be exonerated from a property tax known as the “taxe d’habitation”, which is comparable to council tax.

He also plans a €50bn public investment programme on green energy, training of tradesmen to reduce youth unemployment, transport, public sector administration and justice.

He wants more freedom for school governance and has suggested checks on the competence of government ministers and more proportional representation.

THE TELEGRAPH
FRANCE 24

 

 

 

 

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