Emmanuel Macron declared that he will seek the French presidency in next year’s election, ending months of speculation after he repeatedly pledged to offer an alternative to both the political establishment and to populists.
Macron told journalists that he wants to transform France’s outdated and partisan political system to unleash the country’s potential.
“I’ve seen the vacuity of our political system from the inside, with its obsolete rules and its clannish rites,” he said. “I am a candidate for president because I believe more than anything that we can succeed, that France can succeed.”
Macron européiste et unifiant
About 33 percent of voters say they have a “positive” view of Macron, with only former Prime Minister Alain Juppe ahead at 44 percent, according to an Elabe poll published Nov. 3. Juppe is competing with former President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday in the first round of the center-right Republicans’ primary. Sarkozy wins a positive response from 23 percent of voters, according to the poll.
Since creating “En Marche” in April — the name means “On the Move” or “Let’s Get to Work” — Macron and his team have knocked on 300,000 doors in an effort to take the pulse of the nation and his party now claims about 90,000 members — more than the governing Socialists.
While Macron worked for Hollande, first as a senior adviser and then minister, he consistently pushed the Socialist to embrace free-market policies. He called for the end of the 35-hour work week, no more jobs-for-life in the civil service and the elimination of the wealth tax. As minister he also cut business taxes, let more stores open on Sundays and loosened labor laws.
Polls currently show Macron getting between 12 percent and 15 percent of the vote in the first round of a presidential election — ahead of President Francois Hollande but behind the Republicans Juppe and Sarkozy, who are competing to clinch their party’s nomination on Nov. 27.
Un fédéraliste convaincu
Consistently pushing for more federalism to solve Europe’s problem, Macron has said that British voters’ choice to leave the 28-nation EU must be respected, but that the U.K. can’t be offered special treatment.
“I am attached to a strict approach to Brexit: I respect the British vote but the worst thing would be a sort of weak EU vis-a-vis the British,” Macron said in an interview last month. “I don’t want a tailor-made approach where the British have the best of two worlds. That will be too big an incentive for others to leave and kill the European idea, which is based on shared responsibilities.”
That thinking fits broadly within the French mainstream alongside Hollande and Juppe, the front-runner for 2017. Macron varies slightly by being more outspoken in his calls for faster European integration.
Pour une souveraineté … qui ne soit pas nationale
“We need to restore democracy and sovereignty in Europe,” he said. “Sovereignty is not just at the national level, that’s the mistake of Brexit that other people make. Over six-to-eight months, let’s organize democratic debates in the member countries. Which type of Europe do you want?”