Macron, Le Pen offer sharp contrast in visions for France

In one corner is centrist Emmanuel Macron, with his pro-globalisation, pro-EU world view.

Macron, Le Pen offer sharp contrast in visions for France

World Bulletin / News Desk

The battle to become France's next president boils down to a sharp clash of contrasting visions.

In the other, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who champions "nationalism" and a "France-first" approach.

"The country Mr Macron wants is no longer France, it's a space, a wasteland, a trading room where there are only consumers and producers," Le Pen told thousands of supporters at a recent meeting in Nice.

Macron has a starkly different message: "I will be... the voice of hope for our country and for Europe," he said after the April 23 first-round vote.

Le Pen and Macron, who says he is "neither of the left nor the right", eliminated France's traditional political forces to reach the May 7 run-off.

The 39-year-old former investment banker, who had never before stood for election, started his centrist movement only 12 months ago but is now on the cusp of becoming France's youngest-ever president.

Despite his lack of political experience, polls currently suggest he should beat Le Pen by around 20 percentage points.

President Francois Hollande launched Macron's political career, picking him as an economic advisor and then parachuting him into his Socialist government as economy minister.

Sensing a worldwide shift away from established parties, Macron turned his back on Hollande and quit the cabinet last August to concentrate on building his own centrist political movement "En Marche" (On the Move).

Since then, he has amassed over 250,000 members and confounded critics who said his appeal would not reach beyond young, urban professionals.

In politics as well as his personal life, Macron has broken traditions.

The theatre and poetry lover from a middle-class family in Amiens, northeast France, fell for his secondary school drama teacher, Brigitte Trogneux.

A 64-year-old mother-of-three, a quarter of a century older than Macron, she left her husband and married the young prodigy in 2007.

The unshakeable confidence with which Macron pursued Brigitte has been evident throughout his career.

But it nearly tripped him up after he finished top in the first round, when he gave what many saw as a triumphalist speech and then held a party at a Paris bistro.

Opponents and allies were quick to remind him that victory was not assured, and he threw himself into campaigning.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Mayıs 2017, 17:58