Ever since the presidential election season kicked off in France, the candidate who has managed to draw global attention is perhaps the worst of the lot: Front National leader Marine Le Pen.
Contrary to what racist and xenophobic demagogues like Le Pen deserve, she received maximum media coverage out of the 11 hopefuls running in the first round of the polls, in a campaign reminiscent of Donald Trump's rise to power.
But there is one man standing in Le Pen's way: Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron. The two won the most votes in the first round of the election and will compete in a runoff.
If Macron wins, he could become the youngest president of France and it would be an astounding feat considering he has never held elected office before. He previously served under Francois Hollande as a member of his personal staff and later as economy minister under the government of Manuel Valls.
Macron was initially dismissed by Valls as “populism lite.” Meanwhile, his presidential rival, Francois Fillon, once remarked the French public would "not place their fate in the hands of a man with no experience, who had demonstrated nothing." But the young presidential aspirant proved his critics wrong this month after he pulled in the highest number of votes among all candidates.
While Macron’s political ascent has fascinated his supporters, critics and the media alike, his private life has attracted the same amount of attention as well.
Macron was 17 years old when he told his high school French literature teacher that he would marry her one day.
“At the age of 17, Emmanuel said to me, ‘Whatever you do, I will marry you!’” Brigitte Trogneux stated in an interview.
He reportedly moved to Paris in his last year of high school where both of them called “each other all the time… spent hours on the phone, hours and hours on the phone.”
In 2007, he fulfilled that promise when, he married Trogneux, 24 years his senior and now 64 years old.
Although they do not have any children together, Trogneux has three children — son Sebastien and daughters Laurence and Tiphane — from her previous marriage. She also has seven grandchildren, so that makes Macron a 39-year-old step-grandfather.
The young politician has also been the subject of media gossip. He was once accused of having a secret affair with a male French journalist, which led many to speculate that he is gay.
But Macron laughed off the reports.
“If you’re told I lead a double life ... it’s because my hologram has escaped,” he joked.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters