France’s Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron is set to resign on Tuesday, a source close to the former investment banker said, taking one of the country’s most popular politicians a big step closer to launching a run for the presidency next year.
The source close to 38-year-old Macron confirmed local media reports announcing his resignation as imminent, after months of speculation about the outspoken former investment banker’s loyalty to President Francois Hollande.
Macron’s office was not immediately available for comment on the reports, which appeared in an editorial in Les Echos newspaper and on BFM TV.
His place in government had become increasingly awkward since Macron created his own political movement in April, casting it as leaning neither left or to the right.
Macron has fuelled suspense about his political ambitions ahead of the presidential election, repeatedly refusing to confirm or deny whether he would run in the two-round vote next April and May.
He won a reputation as a maverick in the government by attacking pillars of France’s social model like its 35-hour work week, infuriating left-wing allies and even some members of the Socialist government.
If he does run for president, it could blow wide open an election in which France’s traditional mainstream parties — the Socialists and conservatives Les Republicains — are under threat from far right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
Polls suggest deeply unpopular Hollande is unlikely to even make it into the run-off round of the election, losing out to Le Pen.
If Hollande does decide to run, he will face competition from more hardline Socialists such as former industry minister Arnaud Montebourg and ex-education minister Benoit Hamon.