Roll over, Trump: Could a former investment banker win the French presidency?


Emanuel Macron, France's former economy minister, announced Wednesday that he was standing for the French presidency in 2017, despite polls suggesting he has a very slim chance of winning.

His background in finance, a "traditional French way of thinking" and center policies could limit his chances amid rising support for populist policies on the left and right - including Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration National Front.

"He is not credible enough. He is not popular enough to win against Le Pen," Karel Lannoo, chief executive officer at the Centre for European Policy Studies, told CNBC over the phone.

Lannoo added that Macron had an "old-fashioned" way of thinking that he could change the world.

Macron, who belonged to the current French socialist government, decided to run as an independent, potentially to avoid clashing with President Francois Hollande, who has yet to decide whether he will run for a second term in office.

"It's difficult to understand why he is running for president," Gregory Claeys, research fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel told CNBC over the phone.

Claeys explained that Macron faced the challenge that all centrist politicians do: "He doesn't appeal to the right; he doesn't appeal to the left," Claeys told CNBC.

Macron has never been elected and worked in investment banking before being appointed to become a minister. Such facts could hinder his chances among left-wing voters.

Macron's future is also dependent on who the right-wing party, Les Republicains, pick as its candidate. At the moment former President Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe are leading the field.

"Macron is hoping that Sarkozy will be victorious on the right and that former Juppé supporters will chose him instead," Citibank said in a note.

As for Le Pen, "she will do very well in the first round of the presidential election," Clayes said, but should get about only 40 percent of the vote in a second round, when she would be against only one other candidate.

Amid this tough battle, Macron needs a strong manifesto that conveys his message of a pro-business and reformist candidate the Citi note said.

"Macron needs to propose a program containing some headline-grabbing measures after various leaks last week that he was about to run were drowned in the outcome of the US elections," the bank said.

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