Paris: A civil servant who became a millionaire investment banker and eventually a government minister is now the youngest President of France. Welcome Emmanuel Macron, a complete unknown four years ago.
The founder of the political movement “En Marche!”, Macron, 39. is a centrist who never stood for elections before, did not have the backing of a traditional party and had no constituency or firm voter base.
No wonder, he was branded by critics as inexperienced, having served only as Economy minister as his most senior role for just two years.
A part of Macron’s allure is his atypical rise from a civil servant to a popular presidential nominee. He can present himself as anti-establishment to those disaffected by the fractious nature of French politics.
He is staunchly pro-European, wants to put France back at the heart of the European Union and defend the bloc’s single market.
He has styled himself as a progressive maverick who is “neither Left nor right”, economically liberal, pro-business but leftwing on social issues, including on the freedom to practise religion in a secular state, equality and immigration.
Macron puts the problem of unemployment, which President Francois Hollande failed to solve, among his top priorities. He seeks to reduce it to below 7 per cent.
He also wants to cut 120,000 public sector jobs, reduce public spending by 60 billion ($65 billion) and plough billions into investment.
His policies include remaking the “failed” and “vacuous” French political system, relax labour laws, encourage social mobility, reduce number of MPs and establish an eurozone government.
Macron has also unveiled a series of business-friendly measures designed to boost the French economy and is vocal in the fight against terror.
He has announced proposals to hike defence spending, hire 10,000 more police officers and create a task force which would work around the clock to fight Islamic State.
Macron wants better pay for teachers.
His wife Brigitte Trogneux is a former school teacher from Amiens, 24 years older than him.
They first met when he was 15 and have officially been a couple since Macron turned 18. Macron said she is his right hand in preparing campaign speeches.
Trogneux’s influence over Macron’s politics is visible: His manifesto highlights education as a top priority.
On broader foreign policy, Macron has struck a diplomatic tone, promising to seek constructive dialogue with US President Donald Trump and to work with Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia towards lasting political solutions in Syria and elsewhere.
Macron was born on December 21, 1977, in the northern city of Amiens to Francoise Nogues, a physician, and Jean-Michel Macron, a professor of neurology.
He obtained a Master’s degree in public affairs at Sciences Po, before training for a senior civil service career at the Ecole nationale d’ administration in Strasbourg, the training ground for France’s political elite. He graduated in 2004.
But instead of plunging into politics, Macron assumed a post at the Rothschild Bank.
In 2006, Macron became a member of the Socialist Party. From 2012 to 2014, he served as an adviser to President Hollande but quit after the latter failed to appoint him as chief of his administration.
He returned to politics on August 26, 2014 when he was appointed the economy minister. He was seen as a liberal politician, advocating balanced state finances and liberal market.
In 2015, he announced he was an independent politician. In August 2016, he resigned from the government.
This was shortly after he announced the formation of his own political movement “En Marche!”. He called it a mix of elements from both the Left and the right.
Macron led a remarkable campaign, defying the traditional mainstream parties, courtesy his “En Marche!”.
He won endorsement from Hollande, Republicans’ Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe, moderate François Bayrou and Socialist ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Even former US President Barack Obama threw his weight behind him.