It was as if they had come to see a rock star.
And with room for ‘only’ 8,000 people inside Lyon’s ‘Palais des Sports’ on Saturday, thousands more watched independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron outside on a giant screen.
Explaining his appeal, one woman told Euronews:
“Modernity, renewal, the chance to take the best of each party, without actually being a party. And that is exactly what his strength is.”
Macron mania is filling halls nationwide.
For TV journalist Laurence Haim, back home in France to join the campaign as a spokesperson after years based in the US, it is all reminiscent of a young Barack Obama.
“In other words, enthusiasm, the desire to renew political life, the desire for something different, people who are enthusiastic,” she said.
“And participatory democracy. And that is what is new and what Macron is taking ‘onwards’ with all of us.”
“Onwards!” (“En Marche!”) is the name of Macron’s movement. The centrist, pro-Europe candidate has high-profile supporters from the main parties including Lyon’s Socialist Mayor Gérard Collomb.
“In these circumstances where everything is changing, Europe must come together and for Europe to come together, France needs a strong voice. But to be a strong voice, we ourselves must be able to reform so as to set an example,” Collomb said.
France election: Emmanuel Macron leading in presidential poll https://t.co/763tFmedP6— Sky News (@SkyNews) 1 février 2017
A former investment banker who served as Socialist President Francois Hollande’s economy minister, Macron only launched his party last April, yet today it boasts more than 170,000 members.
It is a ‘citizens’ movement’ in which hundreds of local committees bring forward ideas.
From the Lyon rally, our reporter Julien Pavy said: “Unknown to the general public as little as two years ago, Emmanuel Macron today appears one of the favourites of the presidential election. It has been a meteoric rise for this 39-year-old, who has never been elected, and who wants to embody, through his “Onwards!” movement, renewal, a new way of doing politics, beyond the right-left divide.”