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France

Macron drops strong hints towards 2017 presidential bid

French president François Hollande (left) named Emmanuel Macron to the cabinet in August 2014.
French president François Hollande (left) named Emmanuel Macron to the cabinet in August 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron sent strong indications of his ambition to join the 2017 presidential race during a speech on Tuesday in which he said he wanted to lead his new political movement “to 2017 and to victory”.

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The 38-year-old set up his own political movement in April called ‘En marche’ (On the move) which has been gathering popularity and is seen as a platform to launch his presidential candidacy.

Though Macron stopped short of declaring himself a candidate for next year's presidential race, he told 3000 supporters in Paris his was the movement of hope.

Macron also took a shot at his critics, particularly Prime Minister Manuel Valls, by saying that his vision for France has “upset” some because "it will upset the established order".

Valls has been critical of Macron's new movement. “It's high time all this stopped,” the French Prime Minister said on Tuesday.

The timing of Macron's speech, two days before Hollande gives his traditional Bastille Day TV interview, had raised eyebrows.

The popular economy minister has said that his movement was designed to promote “new ideas ... neither of the right nor the left”.

“It will not be a movement to produce yet another presidential candidate, that is not my priority today,” he said in April.

Macron's allies say no one should expect him to announce yet that he is either leaving the government or that he will be a candidate for president.

Some say he could launch his real campaign in September, France's traditional back-to-work month after the summer holidays.

Macron last weekend indicated his ambitions to stand in next May's election.

Invited to watch a stage of the Tour de France, he made a series of references comparing cycling with politics, saying he was in the race to challenge for the “yellow jersey” worn by the leader.

Hollande's response to Macron's setting up of the party in April was clear – he “has to be in my team, under my authority”, he said.

“It's a question of personal and political loyalty,” the president added.

Hollande has said he will decide by the end of the year whether he will stand, even though opinion polls currently show he would be eliminated in the first round.
 

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