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Macron the Maverick

WASHINGTON, DC – Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, may be a charter member of what New America Senior Fellow Scott Malcomson calls the “Nationalist International.” But she is not the only “maverick” who is polling well in the run-up to her country’s presidential election this spring.

Emmanuel Macron is also a maverick, but of a very different type. After serving as Minister of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs under French President François Hollande, he launched his own political movement, En Marche!, and is running for president as an independent. Macron is only 39, and has never been a party politician. As recently as three months ago, few observers gave him a chance. But he quickly assembled a strong team, and has rallied support among younger voters.

Macron has been polling around 20% for the election’s first round in April. That appears insufficient to advance to the election’s second round in May, when the top two candidates will face off to determine the winner.

The first-round front-runners have been Le Pen, hovering at around 27% in the polls, and François Fillon, who served as Prime Minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. But Fillon’s candidacy is now in doubt, following allegations that he employed his wife and children in fictitious positions while serving in the National Assembly. Meanwhile, left-wing candidate Benoît Hamon has surged in the polls since winning the Socialist Party primary, and is now approaching 20%.