Newspaper article International New York Times

Economy Minister of France Quits Post

Newspaper article International New York Times

Economy Minister of France Quits Post

Article excerpt

The move cleared a path for him possibly to challenge an embattled President Francois Hollande in elections next year.

France's pro-business economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, resigned from the Socialist government on Tuesday, clearing a path for him possibly to challenge an embattled President Francois Hollande in elections next year.

The resignation, anticipated for months, was announced by the French presidency.

Mr. Macron, a 38-year-old former investment banker, was the face of a rightward, free-market tilt by Mr. Hollande's government. He was from the start an anomaly in the Socialist government, having spent two much-contested years challenging Socialist orthodoxies -- to relatively modest effect, in the view of analysts.

He infuriated France's unions with his unabashed talk of opening up the country's relatively rigid economy, loosening job protections and even rolling back the totemic 35-hour workweek.

All through the spring, it was Mr. Macron's name that was often on the placards at anti-government demonstrations.

Mr. Macron also alienated much of the Socialist Party's old left, which regards him as the principal culprit in what they see as Mr. Hollande's betrayal of redistributionist promises. Mr. Macron's undisguised ambition in forming his own political movement, En Marche!, also did little to win over many of his colleagues.

Mr. Hollande's office said Mr. Macron was resigning "to devote himself entirely to his political movement," and indeed Mr. Macron sounded like a candidate in his own statement on Tuesday afternoon. He was resigning to "undertake a new step in my struggle," he said, and to "build a project that will serve only the general interest."

While Mr. Macron was Mr. Hollande's protege, he now represents a political threat to the president on his right. In polls Mr. Macron routinely bests his erstwhile boss, whose support languishes in the mid-teens, and he often comes in second to the putative front- runner, former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, who is mayor of Bordeaux. …

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