France’s ‘man of the year’ lacks political machine to win the presidential election: analyst

Macron has emerged as a likely game-changer: TSL
Macron has emerged as a likely game-changer: TSL

Emmanuel Macron, the investment banker turned politician, has been the surprise in French politics over the past few months, gathering more popular support than his center-left rivals.

However, despite bringing some freshness to the political landscape, the enthusiasm of the 39-year old is unlikely to be enough to make him president.

"Certainly, Macron has been the man of this year so far. He's definitely the man on the wave," Jonathan Fenby, director of European political research at TS Lombard, told CNBC on Monday.

"But he hasn't got a party machine behind him, he's very dependent on pulling towards him a few well-known figures of the center-left," Fenby added.

A poll published in mid-January showed a four point rise in only a month for Macron. He is currently perceived as the third big name in the presidential race, after the center-right candidate Francois Fillon and the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

According to Fenby, Macron could even be the best candidate to beat Marine Le Pen in the second round of the election, given that Fillon has a very conservative economic reform agenda that much of the French electorate don't like.

However, Macron opted to run on his own, putting him in a more complicated position, at least from a structural point of view.

Le Pen retains solid support, but unlikely to be victorious: TSL
Le Pen retains solid support, but unlikely to be victorious: TSL

Macron, who was an economy minister in the current center-left government, decided to quit from his position and to create an independent movement.

"The bulk of the socialist party hate Macron," Fenby said.

"In a sense Macron is not running for this election, he is running for the next presidential election," he added.

Nonetheless, whoever becomes President next May will have to reunite the country.

"Governing France is going to be very difficult, because you've got an election now which is really all over the place," Fenby stated.

"You've got Francois Fillon, the old-fashioned conservative man who appeals to the provincial catholic conservative vote but is promising to bring in Thatcherite economic measures which his electorate will not like very much.

"You've got Marine Le Pen steady on 28 percent for the first round but not really increasing that, and then you've got Macron coming up, you've got (Jean-Luc) Melenchon … who is kind of hard left … and if the socialists get a candidate they don't like, a lot of them may vote for Melenchon, so you really have an enormous mix here," Fenby explained.

On Sunday, the socialist party had its first vote to select its candidate for the upcoming election. Manuel Valls, who gave up on his role as prime minister to run for president, came a disappointing second place. Former education minister Benoit Hamon won the first round. The final socialist vote takes place next Sunday.

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