Macron’s startup-style campaign upends French expectations

Whether or not Emmanuel Macron wins the French presidency in next Sunday’s runoff, he has already accomplished the unthinkable.

That’s thanks to an unorthodox, American-style grassroots campaign, which has harvested ideas from the left and the right, tossed them with a dose of startup culture and business school acumen and produced a political phenomenon. Without a party to back him up or any experience stumping for votes, the 39-year-old Macron came out on top of the first round of the French presidential vote, winning over 8 million voters and overturning decades of French political expectations.

An inside look by The Associated Press at Macron’s campaign found a mix of high-tech savvy, political naivete and a jarring disconnect between his multilingual, well-traveled campaign team and a mass of ordinary voters who have never left France and fear being crushed by immigration and job losses.

“It’s not a done deal,” campaign spokeswoman Laurence Haim told The AP during a campaign trip Saturday, careful to insist that, despite polls naming Macron the election favorite, risks remain. “We are extremely cautious.”

The centrist Macron is facing off against far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential runoff.

Detractors dub Macron a bubble that, if elected, would deflate and self-destruct at the first national crisis. Le Pen labels him a puppet of the borderless financial and political elite at a time when many workers feel like globalization roadkill.

Le Pen’s campaign is unusual in its own…

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