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As Brilliant As He is Unpopular

FRANCE-GOVERNMENT-ECONOMY-MACRON
Reform minded.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    France’s economics minister is disliked by the left-wing of France’s ruling Socialist party because of his wealthy background and drive for reform. But he has the president’s ear and is considered a brilliant financial mind.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Emmanuel Macron is only 36 years old and has been economics minister since June.
    • He graduated France’s elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration and wrote his dissertation on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.
    • Mr. Macron unsuccessfully lobbied French President Hollande to follow a courageous reform plan.
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    Audio

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His sharp suits, slightly mocking smile and millions in assets have turned Emmanuel Macron into a hate figure among France’s ruling socialists. They consider the new economics minister a villain who convinced President François Hollande to renounce his left-wing election promises and perform a liberal turnaround.

They have a short memory. The 36-year-old former investment banker did not distort Hollande’s program. He actually co-wrote it.

Mr. Macron, the son of two doctors, joined France’s Socialist Party at age 24 and was already one of President Hollande’s closest economic advisers before the latter’s 2012 election win. At that time, he worked at the Rothschild & Cie Bank.

He had studied former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s reforms and wanted to persuade the French Socialists, known for their adversity to change, to alter their path.

After the election win, Mr.  Macron was rewarded with a key post: deputy secretary general of the Élysées. the presidential office. All of the important dossiers, from fiscal policy to the planned merger of Airbus and BAE Systems, landed on his desk. He also came to an agreement with the German federal government.

As economics minister, he is now the main driver for reform in the government of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, whom he is accompanying on a trip to Berlin and Hamburg this week.

His meteoric rise made some admire him, but even more envy him. As someone who wrote his dissertation on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, entered the upper echelons of the French Economics Ministry after graduating from the elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration and then switched to the Rothschild & Cie Bank – and is also an accomplished pianist – Mr. Macron is hard for the less brilliant to bear.

His reputation as an arrogant high flyer could, however, spell his downfall, even if Mr. Macron has little of the “gauche caviar” of a typical champagne socialist. Unlike his leftist colleagues, he does not flaunt his personal life and does not have liaisons with actresses, but is married to a teacher 20 years his senior. She taught him French grammar when he was a schoolboy.

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