Emmanuel Macron announced Wednesday an independent, centrist bid for the French presidency, throwing his hat into a competitive ring that is seeing tight primaries in both the center-left and center-right parties.
In a speech in Bobigny, a Paris suburb, Macron, a former protege of François Hollande, the deeply unpopular Socialist president, called for a “democratic revolution,” vowing to move the country away from what he called an obsolete and clan-based political system.
“This transformation of our country is not a fight against someone, against a camp, against a part of France. It is a struggle for all of us, for the general good, for our children,” Macron said, calling for unity between the left and the right. “I can only carry it out with you.”
Macron is an outsider. The former investment banker was virtually unknown in French politics before 2014, when he was appointed the minister of economy, industry, and digital affairs by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. During his two-year tenure, Macron branded himself as business-friendly, pushing several business reforms aimed at boosting economic growth through his Macron Law. Despite his brief stint in Hollande’s socialist government, the 38-year-old is not a member of any political party, nor has he ever held elected office. It is this separateness that Macron capitalized on when he resigned from the Cabinet in August to launch his own centrist political movement En Marche!, or “On the Move!”