Macron announces bid ‘to pull France into 21st century’

Former minister and banker Emmanuel Macron formally announced he was in the running to be the next president of France, saying he wanted to pull the country into the 21st century.

Macron announces bid 'to pull France into 21st century'

Speaking to over 200 journalists as well as supporters in the Paris suburb of Bobigny Macron said he was ready as he announced, after months of speculation, that he would be running in next year's presidential race.

“I'm ready, that's why I am candidate for the French presidency,” said Macron.

Never elected and “neither of the left or the right” in his own words, the pro-business and technology-savvy former investment banker is hoping to shake up a race between older, more familiar figures.

Macron said France was “blocked” and that next May the people “could refuse the status quo in order to advance.”

“The challenge is not to unite the left or the right, but to unite the people of France,” said Macron during his 20 minute speech.

“I'm convinced our country has the power to advance.”

“France has always been the country of progress, but it has fallen off the path,” Macron said. “I'm convinced our country wants to advance.”

“We have entered a new era,” Macron said Wednesday referring to the dangers of global warming, terrorism, rising inequality and a crisis for Western democracies.

“We can't respond with the same men and the same ideas,” he added.

The 38-year-old former investment banker has barely concealed his ambition to occupy the Elysee Palace since he quit the unpopular Socialist government in August.

Macron, a business-friendly former protege of President Francois Hollande, will aim to exploit the deep divisions in the French left in his presidential run.

Hollande, who has the lowest popularity ratings of any post-war president, has said he will not decide until early December whether to seek re-election.

Macron has never held elected office but in April founded his own political movement, En Marche (“On the Move”), saying he wanted to promote “new ideas… neither of the right nor the left”.

READ ALSO: Can maverick Macron really become president of France?

The centre-right Republicans party is tipped to win the two-stage election in April and May, but some analysts are questioning their assumptions after Donald Trump's stunning upset in the United States.

The far-right National Front under leader Marine Le Pen, who announced her election campaign logo Wednesday, is seeking to capitalise on a surge in nationalism and anti-globalisation.

Macron, who quit the beleaguered Socialist government in August to focus on his own political movement, is expected to steal centrist voters from the Republicans and the left.

A poll Tuesday showed him as one of France's most “presidential” figures behind the favourite Alain Juppe, a 71-year-old former prime minister from the Republicans who has one of the longest CVs in French politics.

Macron by contrast has a meagre two years in government as a sometimes rebellious economy minister from 2014-2016 and time as an advisor to his former mentor President Francois Hollande.

“I believe that the French people won't put their destiny in the hands of someone with no experience,” former prime minister and another Republicans candidate, Francois Fillon, said Wednesday morning.

Leftist Socialist rival Arnaud Montebourg dismissed Macron as the “media's candidate who has been on 75 magazine front pages despite never having proposed anything.”

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