20:30 GMT02 July 2020
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    Under fire French President Francois Hollande has suffered yet another blow ahead of next year's national elections with economy minister Emmanuel Macron resigning from the government, sparking speculation he will launch his own presidential bid.

    Following his resignation, Macron said he would "transform France" and "bring hope to a country in need."

    French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron (C) gestures as he prepares to return by boat to the Economy Ministry after tendering his resignation in Paris on August 30, 2016.
    © AP Photo / Lionel Bonaventure
    French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron (C) gestures as he prepares to return by boat to the Economy Ministry after tendering his resignation in Paris on August 30, 2016.

    While the former investment banker stopped short of confirming whether he'll run in next May's French presidential elections, Macron's resignation and rhetoric has left many commentators with little doubt of his political ambitions.

    ​"I am determined to do everything so that our values, our ideas, our actions can transform France as soon as next year… I want to begin a new stage of my fight and build a project that serves the public interest," he told TF1 television.

    "We want this project to be for 2017, the country cannot wait," he said, adding that "the serious circumstances that our country is in, forces us to bring about change."

    Macron's resignation comes after a tumultuous two-year spell as French economy minister, where he was at times outspoken in his criticism of French President Francois Hollande.

    Who Is Emmanuel Macron?

    Macron's expected entrance into the French presidential race would herald an unprecedented moment in modern French politics, with the former economy minister walking a very different path to political life.

    The 38-year-old philosophy graduate and former banker is a relative newcomer to politics, being catapulted from presidential advisor to economy minister two years ago.

    Unlike other big players in French politics, Macron does not belong to any political party and has never run for elected office, with commentators noting that such an approach could gather support from those disillusioned with France's established political parties.

    ​Despite describing himself as "neither left, nor right" politically, Macron favours a reformist, pro-business agenda and has criticized many of the French left's sacrosanct ideas, like the 35-hour working week, labour laws and the country's large public sector.

    Speculation has been rife about Macron's presidential bid since he launched his own political movement earlier this year, called En Marche! (Forward!).

    ​The group has since gained 50,000 members and involves an army of door-knocking volunteers who are traveling around the country trying to find out what key issues are affecting French people.

    Opinion polls have put Macron as one of France's most popular politicians, with support mainly coming from rightwing-leaning, older and professional French people, however he has clashed heavily with members of the left over his pro-business agenda.

    Impact on Hollande

    In a broader political sense, Macron's resignation from the government and expected tilt at next year's presidential election has left under-fire present Francois Hollande in an increasingly isolated position as he weighs up whether to run again for the presidency.

    With key leftwing figure Arnaud Montebourg breaking ranks with Hollande and challenging him for the Socialist Party nomination, Macron's departure has seen the president also lose a key centre-right ally in his party, as the president battles historically low satisfaction ratings.

    ​Much of Hollande's criticism has come from both the left and right, with some critical of the president's inability to kick-start France's sluggish economy, while others have been scathing of the Socialist leader's efforts to reform labour laws, arguing it will wash away workers' rights.

    With Hollande hugely unpopular, others such as former President Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppe — currently France's most popular politician — are to contest the Republican Party nominations, while Marine Le Pen's Front National is also expected to feature prominently in next year's election.


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    economic reforms, campaign, presidential election, resignation, economy, French Presidential Election 2017, En Marche, French Socialist Party, Emmanuel Macron, Francois Hollande, Europe, France
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