Who is Emmanuel Macron? Could he win the French election 2017?
More than 20% of French people plan to vote for Macron in the first round of voting in April, the latest IFOP poll announced this week.
The poll found that 25% of voters would back Marine Le Pen – setting up a showdown between Mr Macron and the far right candidate.
Mr Macron would triumph if he goes up against Ms Le Pen in the second round of voting, according the IFOP poll between January 31 and February 3.
The popularity of centre-right the Republicans candidate Francois Fillon has plummeted amid accusations that his Welsh wife had fake job.
In a press conference today, Mr Fillon strongly denied accusations that his wife Penelope Fillon was paid for work that she did not do.
“I am being blamed of wanting my wife to be the first of my collaborators,” he told the nation. “There is nothing illegal to it.”
The latest IFOP poll found that Mr Fillon is lagging behind with only 18.5% of people planning to vote for him in the first round.
Emmanuel Macron speaks to the crowds at a rally on February 4 in Lyon
Who is Emmanuel Macron?
Macron, 39, was relatively unknown when he resigned as Socialist President Francois Hollande’s economy minister in the summer.
But the youthful independent candidate has emerged as a surprise contender after forming a new grassroots movement called En Marche!
The former banker, who comes from the left, has vowed to unite people from all backgrounds as part of a “democratic revolution” against the “vacuous” political system.
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Critics on both the Right and Left of the political establishment wrongly predicted that his campaign would quickly burst like a “bubble" of Socialist champagne.
Mr Macron’s chances have been boosted by the fact that the Socialists have made left-wing rebel Benoit Hamon their candidate for the election.
Where is Emmanuel Macron from?
The son of a doctor and a neurology professor comes from the city of Amiens in northern France.
Mr Macron started out in the civil service but later switched to investment banking and made his fortune at Rothschild & Co.
Mr Hollande appointed the former banker as a senior adviser in 2012 and promoted him to economy minister two years later.
Macron only appeared on the political scene after this appointment in 2014, according to Marta Lorimer, a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics (LSE).
“The 39-year-old former investment banker was an unusual presence in French politics: young, politically inexperienced and not a member of the party rank and file,” she posted on the LSE website.
“Today, he is an unusual candidate for the highest office in France. While many expected the ‘Macron bubble’ to burst quickly, he has so far defied all predictions.”
Get to know Marine Le Pen
Sat, January 28, 2017
Marine Le Pen is a French politician who is the president of the National Front, a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
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A French politician who is the president of the National Front (FN), a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
Could Emmanuel Macron win the French election?
Ms Lorimer said that Ms Le Pen consistently hovers at around the 25% mark but is expected to lose the second round between the final two candidates.
“At this point, it is unclear to whom she might lose it to,” she added.
“So could Macron make it to the second round and win? It is going to be difficult, but in such an unpredictable race, it is hard to exclude any scenario.”