French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron came to woo the French inhabitants of London this week in a campaign where every vote will count.
Up to three and a half thousand of the capital’s affluent young French population (known not entirely kindly as the ‘bobos’, or bourgeois bohemians) packed Westminster Central Hall on Tuesday night to hear Macron lay out his four guiding principles: to create a cultural change to support and encourage success whilst allowing failure; eliminating the French wealth tax and lowering tax on capital; attracting and developing talent; and to beef up security, with more police on the streets enforcing on-the-spot fines.
All this, he said, is intended to strengthen France and thereby strengthen Europe. As for Brexit, he takes a hard-line stance on Europe cutting ties with the UK.
Aware that many talented French had left their homeland for the culture of opportunity to be found in London, Macron had come to let them know that would be keen to lure them home if elected:
“Je veux que nous puissions être un pays où nous pouvons entreprendre, innover, créer, enseigner.” (My translation: “I want us to be able to be a country of enterprise, innovation, creativity and learning.”).
Thirty-nine year-old M. Macron has worked both in government and in banking. He was a member of the French Socialist Party 2006-2009 and in 2014 was appointed Minister for Economy, Industry and Digital Data by President Hollande. He subsequently resigned from the government in 2016 to found the political movement ‘En Marche!’ with the hope of eliminating the traditional divisions between the left and the right and of redefining the political landscape.
There has been lighthearted talk recently of Canada’s Justin Trudeau possessing a mesmeric attractiveness; now Macron’s supporters are wondering whether their man can exercise his apparent seductive powers over the French electorate on 23 April in the first round of polling (the second and final round is on 7 May). It is thought that he stands a chance of making it through to the second round.
Many thanks to Frédéric Jourdren for his photos and insight.
© 2017 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.