French elections: Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen to battle for presidency

French elections: Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen to battle for presidency, by Adam Sage.

A triumphant Emmanuel Macron basked in the acclaim of his supporters as he reflected that his unlikely assault on the French presidency was launched only last April. “In one year we have changed the face of French political life,” he said. …

The pro-European centrist is widely expected to defeat Marine Le Pen in the second round two weeks from now.

The race for the presidency is unlike anything that has come before in French politics. Neither of the candidates who now go through to the run-off belong to one of the two political blocs that have governed the country since 1963. Both claim to be breaking with “the system”.

Despite appearances, though, the contest between Marine Le Pen, 48, heiress to the National Front dynasty, and Mr Macron, the 39-year-old political novice, pits populist insurrection against the ruling establishment. Mr Macron hails from the civil-service elite that dominates French government; for Ms Le Pen, the race offers France a chance to choose “patriotism” over globalisation.

Macron is the candidate for more of the same from the globalization elite — open borders, increasing rule by unelected bureaucrats, and no idea about Islam.

Mr Macron is offering to better adapt France to the globalised world, promising deeper ties with Europe, moderate deregulation and a slimmer welfare state. Ms Le Pen promises to protect the French from “unfair” foreign trade and from the elite that she claims is collaborating with the nation’s foes. She will maintain her stand as the only bulwark against Muslim immigration and the jihadist terrorism she says it brings.

She will make a hard pitch to the conservative voters who backed Francois Fillon in the first round and who dislike what they see as the left-wing ideas of the self-styled “progressive” Mr Macron. If she can glean enough from this constituency she may carry the day against a man she will depict as a puppet of President Hollande.

Mr Macron, free from the shadow of the big party machines, will now cast himself as a forward-looking, sensible moderniser who will uphold France’s commitment to democracy and civilised values. It is vital for him to win over left-wing voters who backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Marxist revolutionary, and Benoit Hamon, the Socialist candidate. He must also woo those conservatives who voted for Mr Fillon, probably by stressing his commitment to the French model of social welfare created by President de Gaulle in the 1960s. …

Mr Macron entered politics only in 2012 when he quit his job with Rothschild, the investment bank, to become an adviser to Mr Hollande. Two years later he was made economy minister, catching the public eye with his youth, his determination to press through economic reforms – and his marriage to Brigitte Trogneux, 64.

Mr Hollande thought his young minister would breathe life into a discredited government and boost his popularity. Instead, he deserted the party to launch his own movement, En Marche. He cast himself as a fresh face in an ageing political class and the purveyor of new ideas in a country stifled by backward-looking economic policies. He has run on a programme that he describes as a pragmatic bid to break the bipartisan nature of French politics with a mixture of left and right-wing ideas.

Ms Le Pen will attack him as the embodiment of a global elite rejected by ordinary French families – and the crowd of supporters who turned out to cheer him last night (Sunday) underlined her point. They were mostly middle-class Parisians with comfortable jobs that shelter them from the crisis affecting provincial France.

What sort of man marries a woman 24 years his senior? From Wikipedia:

Macron is married to Brigitte Trogneux, who is 24 years older than him and was his teacher in La Providence high school in Amiens. They first met when he was a 15-year-old student in her class, but were only officially a couple once he was 18.

His parents initially attempted to split the couple by sending him away to Paris to finish the final year of his schooling, as they felt his youth made this relationship inappropriate, but the couple stayed together after he graduated and married in 2007.

They live with Trogneux’s three children from her previous marriage.

(Image: Getty. See here.)

A globalist, socialist professional with no personal stake in the future — who married his high school teacher.

hat-tip Stephen Neil