Who Is Emmanuel Macron?
Born in 1977 in northern France, Emmanuel Macron attended a series of elite schools before joining the French Finance Ministry in 2004. Following a four-year stint at an investment bank, he joined President François Hollande's staff in 2012, eventually becoming minister of economy, industry and digital data. After forming the centrist En Marche! party in 2016, Macron became a surprising frontrunner in the presidential race. He defeated National Front leader Marine Le Pen in May 2017 to become, at age 39, the youngest president in French history.
Early Years and Education
Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron was born on December 21, 1977, in Amiens, France. The eldest child of two doctors, Macron distinguished himself with his intellect at an early age, displaying an aptitude for literature, politics and theater.
After attending the local Jesuit school La Providence, Macron completed his high school education at the prestigious Lycée Henri IV in Paris. He went on to study philosophy at Nanterre University and public affairs at Sciences Po, before graduating from the elite École Nationale d’Administration in 2004.
Early Professional Career
After graduation, Macron went to work for the French Finance Ministry as an inspector. Forging powerful connections, he was tapped by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 to join the bipartisan Attali Commission on economic growth.
The following year, Macron left civil service for the world of investment banking at Rothschild & Co. Again demonstrating a capacity for quick learning, he rose through the ranks to become managing director, earning renown for his role in advising Nestlé's $12 billion acquisition of a division of Pfizer in 2012.
Rise in Government
Having already developed a relationship with Socialist Party leader François Hollande, Macron became deputy secretary-general at the Elysée when Hollande was elected France's president in 2012. Tasked with economic and financial matters, he handled an early challenge by helping to broker a compromise with Germany over the ongoing eurozone crisis.
In 2014, Macron was named France's minister of economy, industry and digital data. The following year, he formulated a collection of deregulatory measures to aid the economy, but after some 200 hours of parliamentary debates, the government invoked a little-used clause to bypass the chamber and ram through what became known as "Macron's Law."
Reportedly disillusioned with the governmental procedure, and said to be at increasing odds with Hollande, Macron in 2016 formed a new centrist party called En Marche! In August, he announced he was stepping down from his role as economy minister.
In November 2016, Macron formally announced his candidacy for the 2017 presidential election. Despite having no experience as an elected official, he captured support from both the left and the right through his proposals to lower corporate and housing taxes, reform welfare and pensions and devote resources to defense, energy, the environment and transportation.
Aided by favorable media coverage and the stumbles of more experienced opponents, the 39-year-old surged to the front of the polls. The conclusion of the first round of voting on April 23 saw him finish first, ahead of Marine Le Pen of the National Front, marking the first time since the formation of the French Fifth Republic in 1958 that none of the traditional right-left parties were represented in the final round.
The presidential runoff presented a stark contrast for the electorate, with Macron espousing free trade and a strong European Union and Le Pen seizing the tide of nationalism that had swept her once controversial party into the mainstream.
Shortly before the official close of campaigning on May 5, Macron's team announced that their candidate had been subjected to a "massive and coordinated hacking operation" that resulted in personal and business documents posted to a file-sharing site. However, the data dump seemed to have little impact on the election; when the votes were tallied on May 7, Macron had garnered more than 66 percent to decisively beat Le Pen, making him the youngest president in French history.
Among other issues, President Macron faced a restructuring of regional powers following the United Kingdom's vote to withdraw from the European Union, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump's reshuffling of American interests. Shortly after the French election, Trump announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, prompting Macron to offer France as a "second homeland" to climate researchers in order to "make our planet great again."
In December 2017, President Macron awarded long-term research grants to 18 climate scientists — 13 of whom were previously based in the U.S. — to relocate to France and continue their work.
Climate change was among the issues discussed by Macron and Xi Jinping during the French president's three-day trip to China in early 2018. The two leaders also expressed their mutual support of multilateralism, while overseeing the signing of billions of dollars in trade agreements between the countries.
Around that time, Macron came under fire for the mistreatment of migrants at the port city of Calais, following reports of searches at emergency shelters and police confiscating blankets during freezing spells. The president delivered a speech at Calais on January 16, in which he sought to reassure those who questioned his compassion and warned police about their conduct. "These are human beings to whom we have a duty of humanity," he said. "You need to be exemplary, and you need to respect the dignity of each individual."
Macron has drawn attention for his romantic life: While attending high school in Amiens, he fell in love with his drama teacher, Brigitte Trogneux, 24 years his senior and then a married mother of three. Their affair was put on hold when he left for Paris, but they eventually resumed their romance and married in 2007.
Macron is the only member of his immediate family who did not pursue a career in medicine; following in the footsteps of their parents, his younger brother became a cardiologist and his sister a nephrologist.
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