- Title: Macron launches French presidential campaign as polls show tight race
- Date: 16th November 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - MAY 10, 2016) (REUTERS) MACRON, GETTING OUT OF CAR AND ENTERING ELYSEE PALACE
- Embargoed: 1st December 2016 10:38
- Keywords: Macron France presidential election candidate Hollande president
- Location: BOBIGNY, MONTPELLIER AND PARIS, FRANCE / MARRAKESH, MOROCCO
- City: BOBIGNY, MONTPELLIER AND PARIS, FRANCE / MARRAKESH, MOROCCO
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00758P1U87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Former minister Emmanuel Macron launched his bid for the French presidency on Wednesday (November 16), a move likely to take votes from mainstream candidates in a tight race where opinion polls predict a strong showing for far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
The 38-year-old former investment banker, who until earlier this year was Socialist President Francois Hollande's economy minister, will stand as an independent in the election which takes place next year.
"I am ready for it. That's why I'm a candidate to become president, because I believe above all that we can succeed, that France can succeed," he told an audience of supporters and journalists in an apprenticeship centre northeast of Paris.
"I want to bring France into the 21st century. I want my country to lift its head up and pick up the thread of our centuries-old history to do it," he added.
Although among France's most popular politicians, Macron does not hold elected office and has no party apparatus behind him, so his campaign may struggle. He also has yet to set out his policies in any detail.
However, he is widely seen as a competitor for some of the same votes as conservative favourite Alain Juppe, the current favourite to win the presidency, who will fight it out for the centre-right nomination in a presidential primary election starting on Sunday.
Macron was an advisor to Hollande at the Elysee before a swift promotion to the cabinet, and his resignation further weakened the already unpopular president.
Speaking from Marrakesh on Tuesday, Hollande refused to comment directly on Macron's bid, but sent a message to those on the fragmented left of French politics.
"What's at stake is unity, cohesion," he told journalists from France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde.
"If it (the left) is not unified, it can't be up to the job," he added.
Macron has spent recent months criss-crossing the country in what he has sold as a large scale listening exercise, holding meetings of his movement "En Marche!", which translates as "Onwards!".
But analysts point out that he has as yet been made few concrete policy announcements, though he appears to be taking ideas from both left and right.
"The big question is 'What exactly is the Macron programme? Is it right wing, is it left wing? We know that the preferences of the Macron voters, the likely voters of Emmanuel Macron are more on the centre right, they're not on the left," political expert at Sciences Po university, Bruno Cautres, told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that his comparative lack of political experience may be an advantage.
"That's true that Emmanuel Macron is benefiting that he is a new face, that he's young, that he's saying left and right is over. So let's see," he added.
Macron's presence in the contest will is also likely to further split the already divided left-wing vote as speculation swirls that prime minister Manuel Valls will stand instead of the deeply unpopular Hollande.
An October poll published by Odoxa put Macron at the top of a list of potential presidents from the left, with 49 percent considering him a good head of state. Valls came second on 42 percent. Hollande trailed on 13.
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