France's former economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, has formally announced his bid for the presidency in next year's poll. He said he was entering the contest as an independent candidate.
Emmanuel Macron, a 38-year-old former investment banker who resigned in August as economy minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande, on Wednesday said he would run in the 2017 presidential elections on an independent ticket.
His candidature will add another layer of uncertainty to the election, which analysts predict could boil down to a duel featuring conservative Alain Juppe and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National.
During his two years in the Hollande government, the Amiens-born Macron frequently espoused business-friendly views that were at odds with accepted Socialist ideology, notably questioning the 35-hour working week, which has always been a holy cow for the French left. He describes himself as being "neither of the left or the right." Hollande had pulled him in to the government in a bid to show flexibility on economic policy and to satisfy criticisms from more centrist supporters of his center-left party.
Among his many achievements, he has a masters in philosophy, can speak German and has been an award-winning pianist. He worked at first briefly as a tax inspector, then for the Rothschild banking group, where he earned millions in commission.
A survey carried out last month showed 49 percent of French having a favorable opinion of him.
He resigned from the government in August to prepare his presidential bid, which will possibly see him standing against Hollande, his former mentor.
tj/msh (AFP, Reuters)