A Barack Obama for France? Expats in London hopeful that center-left Macron can beat the far right

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron, French presidential candidate, gives a thumbs-up to attendees after speaking at a campaign meeting with French expatriates at Central Hall Westminster in London, U.K., on February 21, 2017.

In London's Westminster, the heart of the British government, a young, upstart politician held a rally Tuesday night. But, the politician in question has no intention of one day leading the House of Commons. This is Emmanuel Macron, the center-left former economy minister to incumbent French President Francois Hollande, now vying to become his successor in the upcoming election.

At the rally – managed by chipper French millennials bearing the politician's "En Marche!" party logo – one French voter told CNBC that he hopes Macron has the potential to be a "French Barack Obama."

While London may seem an odd choice to campaign for votes in an election taking place across the channel, a near 3,000-strong crowd was in attendance. In fact, French citizens living abroad are able to vote in specifically designated constituencies, meaning that the 320,000 expats who now call the U.K. home can be counted either as part of northern Europe or their home voting area.

With regards to voting trends, Nadege Alezine, a French journalist living in London and editor of the expat site bealondoner.com, told CNBC via e-mail that "the only candidate that seems to please a large number of French expats … is Emmanuel Macron." She reasoned that "he is young, speaks English fluently and even if his program remains still uncertain, he seems to speak to the ear of the French expats."


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