Macron Urges France to “Look to the Future”

Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Macron

Centrist French politician, Emmanuel Macron, seized upon the growing momentum surrounding his presidential bid on Saturday, using a major campaign speech in Lyon to challenge rival candidates for the spring election.

Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, struck a patriotic tone as he addressed supporters in a sports arena filled to capacity in the city center. 

At least 8,000 people waved flags and chanted “Macron, president!” inside the venue, while hundreds more watched the event on a large screen set up outside, France24 reported.

Macron launched a full-scale attack on far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who is also set to give a major campaign speech in Lyon over the weekend. “They are not speaking in the name of the people,” he said of Le Pen’s anti-EU National Front, calling her party the antithesis of the French values of liberty, equality and fraternity. 

“They are speaking in the name of a France that never existed.”

The independent presidential hopeful has moved up in opinion polls, following a week that saw his rivals struggle with financial scandals and in-party divisions.

A survey published in the French business daily Les Echos on Thursday showed Macron moving ahead of mainstream conservative nominee Francois Fillon in the first round of the presidential election on April 23.

Although Le Pen was on pace to finish the first round in first place, the poll showed Macron would beat her in a runoff ballot on May 7.

Indeed, Macron reserved the bulk of his ire for the far-right leader, challenging Fillon and Socialist Party nominee Benoit Hamon only indirectly.

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