On a Saturday afternoon in early March, about 70 French expats gathered at a bar in Montreal’s Little Italy for a political rally. The Quebec winter, Friday-night cobwebs and the distance from home conspired to contain boisterousness. But the speeches were earnest, and there were more questions than the hosts had time to answer. There were glossy pamphlets for all to take home. So this mini-rally had everything you’d expect from a political event, save one thing: a French flag.
It is a striking omission in 2017, a moment when the political zeitgeist in France and elsewhere is supposed to be about placating nationalists.
However, this was a rally for Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old former investment banker who, in the past few weeks, has emerged as the leading contender for the French presidency. The latest polls have him tied for the lead with Marine Le Pen, who favours quitting the euro and stricter controls on immigration.
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