On November 16th, 2016, Emmanuel Macron, France’s former Economy Minister, debuted his campaign for the country’s 2017 presidential election, calling for a “democratic revolution” designed to “unblock France”. Running as independent, Mr. Macron aims to walk the fine line between the Left and the Right, following the path of his recently created Centrist party “En Marche!”. Speaking to his supporters, the 38-year old Mr. Macron promoted a progressive political agenda: “I am convinced our country has the strength, the spirit, the desire to advance because of its history and its people, because France has always been a driving force for political and democratic progress. […] France is above all a project of emancipation of the individuals […] a country in which […] the talent, the effort must prevail.” The next French presidential election is scheduled in April and May 2017. The first round is to be held on April 23rd, followed by the decisive run on May 7th between the top two candidates selected in the first round.
Former investment banker, Mr. Macron held the position of Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs from August 26th, 2014, to August 30th, 2016, when he stepped aside in order to prepare his bid for the 2017 election. As Minister of Economy, Mr. Macron championed business-friendly reforms, aiming to see them through as a way to reassure the European Commission of France’s ability to meet its financial goals.
The political party founded by Mr. Macron, En Marche!, aims to initiate a dynamic renewal of France’s political landscape, in a hope for extended openness and dialogue. In this context, the party encourages individuals who share its values, including freedom of expression, transparency of decisions and the right to information, to become members.
Mr. Macron joins a list of candidates including former Prime Minister François Fillon, the centrist aimful Alain Juppé, and the leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, adding more competition for the present president François Hollande should he decide to run for a second term. Nicolas Sarkozy came third in his party primaries, allowing Fillon and Juppé to advance to the next round of the election process. Following the announcement of the results, Sarkozy congratulated Fillon and Juppé mentioning his high esteem for both candidates. He also opened a brief parenthesis to highlight the similarities between his electoral platform and Fillon’s, suggesting Fillon is the likely candidate he may be supporting.
In June 2016, the Socialist Party, which is the party of the present president Hollande, announced the intention to select a candidate in an open primary, like in 2011. Mr. Hollande suggested he might be running for a second term provided he manages to raise the employment rate during his mandate.
While Mr. Macron’s candidacy adds more options into the electoral register, it may also further fragment the leftwing voters thus offering an advantage to Marine Le Pen, the nationalist leader whose chances to make it to the second round of the elections may have been consolidated by the Brexit vote and the recent election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
Considering the current international political environment, with the UK set to start Brexit negotiations with the European Union next year and Donald Trump starting his presidential mandate in January of 2017, the future president of France may need to handle an extensive internal and international agenda, including stabilising and reforming the European Union, boosting solidarity between the member states, tackling the migrant influx, and working with leaders around the world to achieve peace and stability.
How does Macron’s candidacy influence Hollande’s chances to a second term?