Morrison to put downward pressure on costs

Scott Morrison has promised a helping hand to reduce the cost of living pressures as he prepares to deliver his second budget on Tuesday.

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“We understand that families, households, individuals are under a lot of stress because they just haven’t seen their wages going up,” the treasurer told the Nine Network on Sunday.

For starters, aged pensioners, disability support pensioners, veterans and those on single parent payments will get a one-off payment to help with this winter’s power bills.

Singles will receive $75 by June 30 and couples $125.

There will also be a $350 million boost to help defence force veterans battling mental health conditions, a decision that was quickly endorsed by deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek.

“We support anything that helps our veterans who have sacrificed so much for their country,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney.

The federal government has also struck a $2.3 billion deal with the new West Australian Labor government in a road and rail package for the state that will create 6000 jobs as a result of 17 new projects.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester indicated there would be funding in the budget for the inland freight rail network between Brisbane and Melbourne.

“It is a very exciting project. It is one that’s long overdue,” he told ABC television.

Mr Morrison also hinted at a major health announcement in the budget, coat-tailing the government’s schools and university funding plans last week.

He said Health Minister Greg Hunt had been working with the clinics, the medicine sector, pharmacists and doctors to ensure the budget delivered a “healthy Australia”.

“This budget is all about making the right choices,” he said.

“The choices you have to make are about growing the economy but they’re also about ensuring the services that Australians rely on, and Medicare and the PBS these are critical services.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said it looked like the budget was adopting “pale imitations” of Labor policy in an attempt to save the prime minister’s political life.

“It is designed to save Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, desperate to get a positive Newspoll,” Mr Bowen told ABC television.

Mr Morrison hit back at critics who say the commonwealth government can’t make a difference to housing affordability and have accused the treasurer of wrongly raising expectations.

“I don’t agree with the cynics,” Mr Morrison said.

He said there would be a comprehensive plan that worked with the states and territories in the budget.

“It will address everything from the needs of those who don’t even have a roof over their head to those who are trying to buy one to put over their head,” he said.

“It will deal with those later in life who are looking to change their own housing arrangements.”

Global credit rating agencies will be closely watching the budget.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government values the nation’s triple-A rating, but in the end it will be up to the agencies whether it remains intact.

“We always work to ensure that our budget is in the best possible position and on the best possible trajectory for the future,” he told Sky news.

‘Tonight, France won’: Emmanuel Macron elected French president

Thousands of flag-waving supporters gave Emmanuel Macron a rapturous welcome Sunday as he strode into the courtyard of the Louvre museum to the strains of the European anthem after his decisive election victory.

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The glass pyramid in the world-famous courtyard glowed golden as 39-year-old Macron made a solitary walk to a stage in front, looking solemn.

“Tonight, France won,” the pro-EU centrist, who will become the nation’s youngest ever president cried to the crowds, who yelled with joy.

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“Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France,” he said, before vowing: “I will serve you with love.”

The rousing speech lasted just a few minutes before Macron’s wife Brigitte, 64, and around 20 people including family members joined him onstage.

The new leader then clasped his hand to his heart and closed his eyes as he sang along to the French anthem, the Marseillaise.

SBS Europe Correspondent Brett Mason reports from Paris

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At 39, the pro-EU former investment banker will become France’s youngest-ever leader but will face a huge challenge to enact his programme while trying to unite a fractured and demoralised country.

“I will fight with all my strength against the divisions that are undermining us,” Macron said in a solemn address at his campaign headquarters, adding that he had seen the “anger, anxiety and doubts” of many voters.

The vicious election campaign exposed deep economic and social divisions in France, as well as tensions provoked by identity and immigration.

Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65 per cent and 66.1 per cent of the ballots in the first ever election he has contested, far ahead of Le Pen on 33.9 per cent and 35 per cent.

Vast crowds of jubilant Macron supporters celebrated outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, waving French flags.

“He’s a symbol of hope,” said Jean-Luc Songtia, 36. “It’s like Obama eight years ago. It’s youth, it’s hope.”

WATCH: Parisians celebrate election results

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EXIT POLL: Macron 65.1% / Le Pen 34.9% #Presidentielle2017 @SBSNews

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) May 7, 2017

Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe’s most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.

The result will resonate worldwide and particularly in Brussels and Berlin where leaders will breathe a sigh of relief that Le Pen’s anti-EU, anti-globalisation programme has been defeated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said it was a “victory for a strong and united Europe”, while EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said French voters had chosen a “European future.”

The euro rose against the dollar in Asian trade and other financial markets are expected to react positively to the news.

Félicitations @EmmanuelMacron! Heureux que les Français aient choisi un avenir européen. Ensemble pour une #Europe plus forte et plus juste pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/GWlxKYs4hL

— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) May 7, 2017

After Britain’s vote last year to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the US, the French election had been widely watched as a test of how high a tide of right-wing nationalism would rise.

Trump, whose beliefs and temperament are seen as radically different to Macron’s, congratulated the future French president on his “big win” and said he looked forward to working with him.

Le Pen, 48, had portrayed the ballot as a contest between Macron and the “globalists” – those in favour of open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty – and her “patriotic” vision of strong borders and national identities.

In a short statement, Le Pen claimed a “historic, massive result” and said she had called Macron to wish him “success” in tackling the challenges of the country.

She said her National Front (FN) party needed to undergo a “profound transformation” ahead of parliamentary elections in June, which is set to include a name change, according to one of her aides.

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Major obstacles ahead

Macron will face huge challenges as he attempts to enact his domestic agenda of cutting state spending, easing labour laws, boosting education in deprived areas and extending new protections to the self-employed.

The philosophy and literature lover is inexperienced, has no political party and must try to fashion a working parliamentary majority after legislative elections next month.

His En Marche movement – “neither of the left, nor right” – has vowed to field candidates in all 577 constituencies, with half of them women and half of them newcomers to politics.

“In order for us to act, we will need a majority in the National Assembly,” the secretary general of En Marche, Richard Ferrand, told the TF1 channel, adding that only “half of the journey” had been completed.

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Many analysts are sceptical about Macron’s ability to win a majority with En Marche candidates alone, meaning he might have to form a coalition of lawmakers committed to his agenda.

Furthermore, his economic agenda, particularly plans to weaken labour regulations to fight stubbornly high unemployment, are likely to face fierce resistance from trade unions and his leftist opponents.

He also inherits a country which is still in a state of emergency following a string of Islamist-inspired attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 230 people.

Macron and outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande will appear side-by-side on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on Monday for a ceremony to commemorate the Nazi capitulation on May 8, 1945.

Rollercoaster election

The vote Sunday followed one of the most unpredictable election campaigns in modern history marked by scandal, repeated surprises and a last-minute hacking attack on Macron.

Hundreds of thousands of emails and documents stolen from his campaign were dumped online on Friday and then spread by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, leading the candidate to call it an attempt at “democratic destabilisation.”

France’s election authority said publishing the documents could be a criminal offence, a warning flouted by Macron’s opponents and far-right activists online.

The election saw voters eject establishment figures, including one-time favourite Francois Fillon, a rightwing ex-prime minister.

Unpopular Hollande was the first to bow to the rebellious mood in December as he declared he would be the first sitting president not to seek re-election in the French republic, founded in 1958.

In the first round of the presidential election on April 23, Macron topped the vote with 24.01 per cent, followed by Le Pen on 21.30 per cent, in a crowded field of 11 candidates.

The results revealed Macron was favoured among wealthier, better educated citizens in cities, while Le Pen drew support in the countryside as well as poverty-hit areas in the south and rustbelt northeast.

“France is sending… an incredible message of hope to the world,” veteran centrist Francois Bayrou, an ally of Macron, told France 2 television. “Anyone who bet on this has probably made a fortune.”

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Former drama teacher seeks new role as French First Lady

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife, now 64, has been constantly by his side during his campaign, managing his agenda, editing his speeches and advising him on his stage presence.

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For his victory speech after winning the first round of the election two weeks ago, Macron brought his wife onto the podium and thanked her, to long applause.

“Brigitte, always present, and even more now, without whom I would not be me,” an emotional Macron said as hundreds of his supporters shouted her name.

Watch: French president elect Macron thanks supporters

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Both complete unknowns when Macron was appointed economy minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government in August 2014, Brigitte Macron, born Trogneux, resigned from her teaching job a year later to help her ambitious young husband.

At the economy ministry, she was a discreet presence during meetings with officials in the modernist Bercy building by the Seine in eastern Paris.

“She spends a lot of time here because her view matters to me, because she brings a different atmosphere, that is important. My life is here, you cannot work well if you are not happy,” Macron said in his last staff meeting after he resigned from the Hollande government in August 2016.

He would not declare his presidential bid until three months later, on Nov. 16, 2016, but by then he had already started making the relationship with Trogneux – nearly 25 years his senior – an integral part of his public persona.

Brigitte Macron, wife of Emmanuel Macron, casts her ballot in the second round of the French presidential election while her husband looks on.AAP

In the months leading up to his official candidacy, the French public discovered Trogneux in a series of cover stories in the popular society magazine Paris Match, including, in August 2016, one of the couple on the beach, the petite blonde looking svelte and tanned in a one-piece bathing suit.

“Lovers’ holiday before the offensive,” read the headline.

In a November 2016 TV documentary on France 3, just days after Macron declared his bid, the couple shared video footage of the youthful Macron in the school play at which they met, and footage of their 2007 wedding ceremony.

“Thanks for accepting us, a not quite normal couple,” Macron is heard saying in a video of the ceremony, attended by Trogneux’ then adult children. He was nearly 30, she 54.

French cartoonists and satirical radio and TV programs regularly mock the couple’s age difference, portraying Macron as a schoolboy taking instructions from his teacher.

Macron supporters say these jokes are misogynist, saying that nobody would bat an eyelid if the age difference – the same as between U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania – had been the other way around.

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Trogneux, takes the mockery in her stride and has joked that if he wanted to run for president, he better do it soon, while she still looked presentable.

“He needs to go for it in 2017 because by 2022, his problem will be my face,” she was quoted as telling a friend in Nico­las Pris­sette’s book “Emma­nuel Macron en marche vers l’Élysée”

Born Brigitte Trogneux April 13, 1953, the youngest of six children in a family of wealthy chocolate makers in the northern town of Amiens, she married a banker with whom she had three children.

In 1993, in the Providence Jesuit college where she taught French and drama, the young Macron acted in a play under her supervision. The next year, the two rewrote a play together, adapting it to include more roles.

“Little by little, I came totally under the spell of the intelligence of this young boy,” Trogneux told France 3 TV.

As rumours started to fly about the relationship, Macron left Amiens to complete his last year of high school at the prestigious Lycee Henri IV in Paris, a traditional breeding ground for the French elite.

“You cannot get rid of me. I will come back and I will marry you,” Macron told Trogneux according to his biographers.

Asked about what role Trogneux would play at the Elysee if he were elected, Macron has said that he will propose that within the first weeks of his presidency a formal, albeit unremunerated, role is established for the French First Lady and that she will have her say in how that role is defined.

“She will have an existence, she will have a voice there, a view on things. She will be at my side, as she has always been, but she will also have a public role,” he said.

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AFL boss looks forward to China game

AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan is confident the historic clash between Gold Coast and Port Adelaide in Shanghai will go ahead successfully, despite concerns about poor air quality.

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Suns coach Rodney Eade has flagged the prospect of not selecting players who suffer from respiratory problems due to the threat of smog and forecast hot conditions in China.

“There are a lot of things you can’t control about our game, there are always operational challenges wherever we play the game,” McLachlan said on Monday.

“But there’s nothing that I’m aware of that puts the game at risk.

“Our players and our clubs are resilient if there is something, but I don’t have anything that’s worrying me at the moment.”

Eade said the absence of direct flights from the Gold Coast meant the Suns would spend 20 hours travelling to Shanghai, potentially hampering their preparation for the first match to be played for premiership points outside Australia or New Zealand.

“That smog you talk about, hopefully there are no respiratory problems,” Eade told Triple M.

“We won’t take any players who have asthma or some respiratory problems anyway.”

Eade said the Suns would decide on any team changes on Tuesday for the match in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon.

Both clubs have a bye in round nine to help aid their recovery.

“It’s self-evident that a long trip to Shanghai is more challenging than a domestic trip but both clubs are doing it,” said McLachlan.

“They play each other pretty much on level terms and then they play after a week’s break when they get back.

“Both clubs are broadly happy with it, albeit that it’s more challenging than a normal game.

” … whatever the conditions are, I know they’ll be the same for both teams.”

Image abuse and what to do about it

IMAGE ABUSE AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

More than one in five young Australians have been affected by image-based abuse.

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IT’S NOT JUST REVENGE PORN

Intimate partners or former partners account for only 39 per cent of female victims and 30 per cent of male victims.

“This isn’t just about ‘revenge porn’ – images are being used to control, abuse and humiliate people in ways that go well beyond the ‘relationship gone sour’ scenario.” – RMIT University’s Dr Nicola Henry.

Revenge porn is the sharing of photos by partners or former partners without consent to humiliate the victim but “image-based abuse” can cover threats, other abuses and other kinds of perpetrators.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

RMIT and Monash universities surveyed almost 4300 Australians aged 16 to 49 and found image-based abuse is far more common than previously thought.

* Victims are equally likely to be women (22 per cent) or men (23 per cent).

* 56 per cent of people with a disability and 50 per cent of Indigenous Australians have been victims of image-based abuse.

* Victimisation is higher for lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians (36 per cent).

WHAT’S THE IMPACT?

* The majority of those experiencing “sextortion” – threats to share images – reported high levels of psychological distress, consistent with moderate to severe depression. Almost half feared for their safety.

* Depression and anxiety were also common with victims whose images were distributed or taken without consent.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

Tips for victims are on esafety.gov苏州美甲培训学校,:

* Report the abuse to authorities.

* Collect evidence such as screenshots and web addresses.

* Seek help and support from friends and counselling services.

* Create a positive digital reputation to help bury the content down the result of search engines.

Sources: esafety.gov苏州美甲培训学校,, ABC, RMIT and Monash universities

Shorten sides with Catholics over schools

Labor leader Bill Shorten has accused the Turnbull government of lying to parents as he struggled to explain why Catholic schools would need to increase tuition fees five times more than planned funding cuts.

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Mr Shorten visited St Thomas More’s Primary School in Canberra on Monday, one of the schools that has been told it will lose money over the next decade under the federal government’s new funding plan.

Government figures show the school losing a total $422 per student over the next decade, but in 2027 will still receive $5334 for each student.

Mr Shorten claimed the cut would mean a $5000 fee hike – forcing parents to pay more than $8000 a year.

Asked how that fee hike tallied with the cut, Mr Shorten accused the government of working from a “false baseline” of funding levels.

“The government has been lying to you about what the school is losing and gaining,” he told reporters at the school.

“Malcolm Turnbull wants some sort of gold medal because he is not cutting schools as much as Tony Abbott.”

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has repeatedly pointed out that, overall, Catholic schools will get an extra $1.2 billion over the next four years – an average growth rate of 3.7 per cent.

Despite the sector complaining of not being consulted, the minister says he’s had numerous meetings with representatives, as did his office and department.

“I was told, sitting in my office, that 3.5 per cent (growth) was what they expected, what they needed to keep up with costs,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News.

“We are delivering 3.7 per cent across the Catholic sector … as we make sure we get everybody to a common level.”

Catholic education director for the Canberra and Goulburn region Ross Fox says authorities were happy with 3.5 per cent growth when they thought every school would get the same.

In the ACT, 29 systemic Catholic schools would now have their funding trimmed 1.8 per cent, he said.

“That doesn’t make sense to us,” he told Sky News.

“Under this plan the government’s putting 150 per cent increase in funding over 10 years to ACT government schools, meanwhile Catholic schools often just across the road, same kids, going backwards two per cent.

“The government is prioritising government schools over non-government schools.”

The government has the backing of independent schools, including the Australian Association of Christian Schools, two of which are among the 24 that will have funding cut.

“Rather than join the line of critics from those affected … perspective, we’d like to loudly applaud a policy approach that is good for all schools and sectors and, as has been said, provides an the opportunity to put an end to the ridiculous school funding wars,” its head Martin Hanscamp wrote to Senator Birmingham.

The Greens are leaning toward supporting the government’s package but intend referring it for a Senate inquiry for scrutiny.

Home auction rates hold but trend softer

Growth in house prices across Australia’s major cities appears to have moderated over the past few weeks as the recently announced tightening of regulatory measures takes hold.

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Prices for the combined capital cities rose 10.2 per cent in the year to May 7, according new data from market information company CoreLogic.

That compares to the 12.9 per cent annual rise at the end of March, the highest yearly growth rate since mid-2010.

Capital city home prices have now risen 3.7 per cent since the start of 2017.

Meanwhile, the auction clearance rate of 74.6 per cent last week, was up from 70 per cent the previous week and from 67.7 per cent for the same time last year.

But while that appears a strong result, CoreLogic says the trend is softening.

“While clearance rates remain above the long-term average across the largest capital cities, the rolling four-week average reveals a softening trend which can be attributed to Sydney’s final clearance rate drifting lower over the past two months,” CoreLogic said.

The banking regulator capped interest-only mortgage lending in March, telling lenders to limit higher risk interest-only loans to 30 per cent of new residential mortgages.

The measures have resulted in a slight easing in clearance rates in recent weeks, while approvals for construction of new homes fell 13.4 per cent in March, separate data showed on Monday.

The number of homes up for auction activity was down from a year ago, with 1,662 auctions held in the week compared to 2,230.

Melbourne had the highest auction clearance rate, at 78.4 per cent, with Sydney close behind at 77.8 per cent.

The median price for homes in Sydney was $972,500 and for apartments was $730,000.

Melbourne homes had a median price of 690,000, while apartments came in at $547,250 each.

Breast cancer trial cuts therapy by weeks

Australian breast cancer patients will be among the first in the world to be treated with a new form of radiation therapy that is completed in just eight minutes, not weeks.

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At the moment breast cancer patients are required to make dozens of trips to hospital over several weeks to receive radiation therapy after surgery to remove cancerous tissue.

However intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) delivers concentrated radiation in a single dose during a lumpectomy.

As part of an international trial in partnership with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Monash Health, about 50 Victorian breast cancer patients will be treated with IORT using the Xoft Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System.

According to manufacturer iCAD, IORT with the Xoft System allows radiation oncologists and breast surgeons to work together to administer one precise dose of radiation to a tumour site at the time of surgery.

It can be completed in as little as eight minutes, making it possible to replace six to eight weeks of traditional radiation therapy with a single treatment

In March, Monash Cancer Centre became the first medical centre in Australia to adopt the Xoft System and four women have already received the treatment as part of the phase four trial.

Dr Jane Fox from Monash Health says IORT will offer women with early-stage breast cancer another treatment option and a “better patient experience”.

“We are encouraged by the research to date as the global community of treatment centres continues to provide appropriate patients with the unique option to complete a full dose of radiation therapy in a single treatment,” Dr Fox said.

AFL happy with out-of-bounds rule

AFL boss Gill McLachlan is happy with how the contentious deliberate out-of-bounds rule is being adjudicated, despite acknowledging the umpires made a couple of mistakes in round seven.

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Richmond’s Jayden Short was harshly penalised for fumbling the ball over the line in the dying seconds of the five-point loss to the Western Bulldogs, denying the Tigers one final shot at victory.

GWS co-captain Callan Ward was also controversially adjudged to have deliberately put the ball out of bounds in the shock loss to St Kilda on Friday night.

“There are always some mistakes,” McLachlan told reporters on Monday.

“I think respect for umpires is an incredibly important part of our game at the community level and the elite level.

“They do a very tough job.”

McLachlan believes most supporters have a solid understanding of how the new interpretation of deliberate out of bounds should be applied.

They understand it and on the weekend there were a couple of mistakes,” he said.

“Football is going really well so in the absence of other noise we focus on two mistakes.

“I think we are not talking about the important role the rule changes have made to the quality of the game.

“When you make change there are always challenges.”

The AFL Laws of the Game committee gave the new interpretation of the rule its seal of approval last week, although several coaches, including Luke Beveridge from the Western Bulldogs, remain far from convinced.

“The insufficient intent, is it clearer or less clearer? I don’t know,” Beveridge said on Saturday night.

“I feel like, is this Morecambe and Wise or Fawlty Towers? I’m not sure.”

Macron the mould-breaker: France’s youngest leader since Napoleon

It has taken only three years for Emmanuel Macron to rise from being an unknown government adviser to being elected France’s youngest head of state since Napoleon.

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Elected on Sunday several months before his 40th birthday, the centrist has turned a stale establishment upside down while eschewing the wave of economic and political nationalism that helped Britain to vote for “Brexit” and Donald Trump to be elected U.S. president.

His election represents a long-awaited generational change in French politics where the same faces have dominated for years.

He will be the youngest leader in the current Group of Seven (G7) major nations and has elicited comparisons with youthful leaders past and present, from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to British ex-premier Tony Blair and even President John F. Kennedy in the United States.

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Many attribute Macron’s stunning rise to a deep yearning for a fresh face, coupled with a rare message of optimism in a country that has long been obsessed with national decline.

“His campaign has been like group therapy – to convert the French to optimism,” said writer Michel Houellebecq.

The unexpected collapse of many mainstream opponents certainly played a part, but Macron had the tactical nous to seize his chance.

He seemed destined for a steady climb up the ranks of the French establishment when he decided to apply his skills as a deal-making investment banker to the world of politics.

But since striking out on his own in August 2016 after only two years as a minister, he has tapped into widespread disenchantment to broadcast a strong anti-establishment message.

Despite having attended France’s most prestigious schools, making a killing by brokering a $10 billion corporate acquisition, and serving in a Socialist government under President Francois Hollande, Macron has vowed to shake up the system that he comes from.

“France is blocked by the self-serving tendencies of its elite,” he told supporters at a rally in the southern town of Pau. “And I’ll tell you a little secret,” he added, lowering his voice: “I know it, I was part of it.”

Watch: French president elect Macron thanks supporters

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“Always doing so many things”

Born in Amiens, in the northern rustbelt, to a family of doctors, he describes in his campaign book “Revolution” an idyllic childhood spent “in books, a little removed from the world”.

There, at age 15, he met his future wife Brigitte, who was his drama teacher – 24 years his senior and married with children. Their unusual relationship has fuelled intense coverage by the glossy boulevard magazines.

After school, he moved to Paris and attended the Sciences-Po and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) academies, the traditional training ground of the French elite. In parallel, he worked as a research assistant to the philosopher Paul Ricoeur.

“He was always doing so many things at the same time,” his Sciences-Po classmate Marc Ferracci told Reuters.

After finishing near the top of his class, he joined the civil service, before a four-year stint working in mergers and acquisitions for the investment bank Rothschild.

Helping to broker Nestlé’s acquisition of Pfizer’s baby food division earned him a small fortune.

After Rothschild, he joined Hollande’s staff in the Elysee in 2012 and it was not long before he became economy minister.

“He always wanted to be in politics, be elected. He talked about it all the time,” said his ENA classmate Gaspard Gantzer, now Hollande’s spin doctor.

In government, Macron set about attacking some of the sacred cows of the French “social model” such as the 35-hour working week, iron-clad job protection, and the civil service’s culture of jobs-for-life.

These are messages that have earned him surprising popularity for an ex-banker in a country where many disdain the world of high finance – but also the contempt of many on the traditional left, as well as the nationalist right.

“You are already hated before you have even set foot in the Elysee,” left-wing film director Francois Ruffin wrote in an open letter to Macron published last week.

Related reading”Uber of French politics”

Macron, who sleeps little and can often be seen online on the Telegram messaging service at 2 a.m., says his ambition is to bridge the left-right divide that has long dominated French politics.

Yet when he quit the government last August to build up the political movement he had founded only four months earlier, many saw him as a shooting star – at best.

“He won’t last five minutes with the bad guys in the campaign,” one of his predecessors at the finance and economy ministry scoffed privately last November.

But with the ruling Socialists in disarray and the centre-right’s candidate, Francois Fillon, mired in a financial scandal, Macron emerged in pole position.

“He did to French politics what Uber did to taxis,” said Laurent Bigorgne, a friend of Macron’s and head of the Institut Montaigne think-tank.

“It was clear from the start that Uber would make taxis obsolete; only the taxis didn’t see it coming.”

Macron has continued to confound opponents and pundits by building up huge grassroots support and winning endorsements from defecting centre-left and centre-right politicians.

Far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, whom he defeated after an acrimonious runoff campaign, scornfully dubbed him a “smirking banker” in a rancorous TV debate, painting him as the candidate of “globalization and Uberisation gone wild”.

In a final put-down, when Le Pen attempted to interrupt his summing-up, Macron told her: “You stay on TV. I want to be president of the country.”

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