Macron, 39, Gains Traction As France Yearns For Change

Macron, 39, gains traction as France yearns for change

QUIMPER, France, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 19th Jan, 2017 ) - After queueing in the dark for more than an hour, hundreds of voters who had turned out in winter rain to see France's fast-rising presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron faced disappointment. "The space is full. We can't let any more people in," the 39-year-old former economy minister told the crowd as he appeared in the gloom outside a sports centre in northwestern Quimper on Monday.

Among the mass of people hunched in thick coats and hats stood Jean Yvard, a small business owner from the local Brittany region, who came to hear what he described as a "social phenomenon." Yvard, 53, said he had always voted for the right, but in the election in April he is considering the centrist Macron, who quit the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande in August, to run as an independent. "What he's proposing is still not known, but it'll come.

What's known is his attitude, the personality," Yvard told AFP as the final spaces filled up in the 2,500-capacity venue. Others, from retirees to a 23-year-old shop assistant, were also curious about someone who, less than 100 days before voting, has suddenly picked up momentum. Pollsters now tip him as a serious candidate, bookies have slashed their odds for victory, and regular crowds of thousands are testament to his pulling power. "From around December, we started thinking that it's a possibility we might win," a senior aide said on condition of anonymity.

For fans he's a fresh face in a fossilised political system, a reformer with a social conscience, an ex-banker who understands both business and the "banlieues" -- France's gritty multi-ethnic suburbs. His critics see a shallow sensation fuelled by media hype, or an elitist snob who has never been elected and is backed by chief executives. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has called him the "candidate of the banks." APP/AFP/kmd � 10:32/13:16/13:16