Popular French politician Emmanuel Macronhas will decide whether he will run for president by December 10. His entrance into the race would likely pose a threat to candidates on the left and right.
"He is in the process of finalizing his decision," Sylvain Fort, one of Macron's spokesmen, said on Tuesday. "If he decides to be a candidate, he will announce it between now and a big meeting on December 10."
Earlier reports had indicated that Macron had already finalized his decision to run. French news agency AFP, citing an anonymous member of Macron's team, reported that the former economy minister would declare his candidacy by December 10, adding that "all the conditions are in place."
However, Fort rebuked these reports. "At this stage, he has not yet made a decision," he said.
Should Macron decide to run, he is expected to run as a candidate for his own centrist political movement, En Marche (Forward), which he founded in April to promote "new ideas… neither of the right nor the left."
The 38-year-old Macron is a business-friendly protégé of the current Socialist President Francois Hollande. However, a presidential bid would exploit the deep divisions within the Socialist Party and the French left more generally.
Hollande is suffering the lowest popularity ratings of any post-war president. Only 11 percent of voters surveyed last month said they would support him for another presidential run. He has also alienated what little support he had from within his ranks after two journalists published a book of frank conversations with the president, in which he insulted party colleagues and leading figures in the judiciary. Hollande is expected to also announce by the end of the year whether he will make a bid for re-election.
Macron resigned from the Socialist Party in August, fuelling speculation that he would make a bid for the French presidency. His straight-talking, anti-establishment flair, coupled with his youthfulness, has attracted young cosmopolitan admirers. However, his appeal to the wider electorate remains untested.
Polls indicate that next year's presidential election will go to a second-round contest between a centre-right candidate from the Union for a Popular Movement party, expected to be former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, and the far-right National Front candidate, Marine Le Pen.
dm/cw (Reuters, AFP)