Team Macron vs. Team Le Pen
Behind the two candidates going head to head in the runoff for the French presidency are teams of advisers whose careers will also hinge on the outcome.
While one group will be returning to their day jobs after the results on Sunday night, the other will soon be running the euro area’s second-biggest economy and taking decisions that will affect hundreds of billions of dollars in global trade from energy to finance and defense.
The two teams are pretty dissimilar in terms of education, background and experience — though both candidates are supported almost exclusively by white men.
Thirty-nine-year-old Emmanuel Macron’s closest advisers are typically associates from the elite schools where he studied, or his time in government under outgoing President Francois Hollande.
Macron has said he’s close to picking a prime minister and wants a seasoned politician who can grapple with parliament — and preferably a woman. He hasn’t given much indication of who else might be in his cabinet, but says he wants people from outside the usual political circles. With no established party to draw on, Macron is likely to seek allies from both sides of the political spectrum.
Alexis Kohler, 44
The salt-and-pepper-haired adviser may have as many diplomas as his boss. He’s tipped to be Macron’s chief-of-staff after previously holding the same post when the candidate ran the economy ministry. Kohler is currently chief financial officer of MSC Cruises in Geneva.
Studied at Sciences Po, the Sorbonne law school, ESSEC business school and ENA.
Ismael Emelien, 30
Glued to his cellphone, hidden behind large glasses, the low-key campaign strategist is steering Macron through the dangerous waters of French politics. He started out in politics on Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s 2006 team and then worked for global communications firm Havas Group before joining Macron at the economy ministry.
Studied at Sciences Po.
Julien Denormandie, 36
An engineer who worked on Iran for the French Treasury and then at the embassy in Cairo advised Macron on trade during his time in government. Now an aide on the campaign team and mentioned as a possible specialist adviser on that topic if his boss wins.
Studied at France’s top schools for land management and engineering, before getting an MBA at Paris Engineers School.
Other contemporaries on Macron’s team include:
Clement Beaune, Aurelien Lechevalier, Benjamin Griveaux, Sophie Ferracci, Christophe Castaner, Marc Ferracci
Richard Ferrand, 54
A Socialist lawmaker who’s been in politics for two decades and the national parliament since 2012, Ferrand was one of Macron’s earliest backers. He defended the young minister’s economy bill in parliament and helped him start his political movement in April last year. Could get a major cabinet position.
Studied law in Toulouse.
Jean Pisani-Ferry, 65
Former head of Hollande’s long-term policy unit, Pisani-Ferry has also worked for the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund and was president of the Bruegel research institute between 2005 and 2013.
Graduated from a French technology institute.
Gerard Collomb, 69
Socialist senator and mayor of Lyon was another early supporter of Macron, delivering France’s No. 3 city to the candidate with 30 percent of the vote in the first round of the election. He is the oldest of Macron’s inner circle and one of many possible candidates for prime minister.
Former teacher, studied Greek and Latin literature.
Other names to watch:
Francois Bayrou, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Sylvie Goulard, Jean-Paul Delevoye, Francois Patriat, Philippe Martin, Gerard Araud, Bruno Tertrais, Jean-Claude Cousseran
Team Le Pen
In her second run for president, Marine Le Pen has looked to broaden her pool of advisers beyond the veterans who campaigned alongside her father when he led the party.
Still, there are few seasoned politicians or officials on her team and none with experience in senior government positions. Le Pen says that many senior civil servants are ready to serve her cabinet, but they won’t go public unless she wins.
Last week Le Pen sealed an alliance with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a rival nationalist who lost in the first round of the presidential vote, and announced he’d be her prime minister.
Florian Philippot, 35
An elite-schooled technocrat, Philippot gave Le Pen confidence and structure, was the architect of her plan to leave the euro and replaced the notion of race with that of identity. Has hinted he wants to be interior minister.
Studied at HEC business school and ENA, the elite school for government officials.
Nicolas Bay, 39
European lawmaker is the National Front’s deputy leader after spending 10 years in a rival extremist group. Bay demonstrated against the same-sex marriage law and is strongly opposed to any form of immigration.
Studied law in Nanterre.
Louis Aliot, 47
Le Pen’s partner and her closest political adviser, the southern lawyer would be France’s first ‘First Husband.’ He says he’s not looking for an official role but will remain one of her most influential counsellors, especially on foreign affairs where he shares common ground with U.S. Republicans and the Jewish community.
Studied law in Toulouse.
Other names to watch:
Steeve Briois, David Rachline, Mikael Sala, Ludovic de Danne, Jean Messiha, Nicolas Lesage, Sebastien Chenu, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, Philippe Murer
The Old Guard
Philippe Olivier, 55
Le Pen’s brother-in-law and speech writer has been a member of the National Front since 1979. He is the closest political aide to Le Pen and among her most discreet advisers.
Studied law in Paris.
Gilbert Collard, 69
The lawyer turned lawmaker is one of Le Pen’s most vocal advisers. He is blunt in his attacks and has a security-first vision for France, calling for more prisons and the deportation of all illegal immigrants. He’s shown an interest in the justice ministry job.
Graduated from Paris’s Pantheon law school.
Jean-Richard Sulzer, 69
The former Paris economy professor joined the National Front in the early 2000s and helped devise Le Pen’s plans for leaving the euro. A councillor in the northern region of Hauts-de-France, Sulzer is her most trusted economic adviser.
Graduated from HEC business school, taught at Paris Dauphine University.
Others to keep an eye on:
Bernard Monot, Frederic Chatillon, Jean-Michel Dubois