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IT IS rare that a disruptive young politician grabs attention in France. Political careers tend to be built up after decades of party hacking and parliamentary manoeuvring. But the decision on April 6th by Emmanuel Macron, the economy minister, to launch a new cross-party political movement in an effort to get France moving has created an unusual buzz--and prompted much speculation about the minister's own political ambitions.

At a town-hall meeting in Amiens, in the Somme, where he was born, Mr Macron unveiled the movement he has named "En marche!" or "On the move!". It was not a party, he said, but a political grouping "neither on the right nor the left", with the aim of trying to build cross-party consensus in order to "unblock France". The country was suffering, he said, from "le mal fran├žais": a lack of confidence in itself, and a fear of change and of opening up to the world. The French needed to start believing in themselves, he urged, and stop worrying about failure and preserving old privileges, if they were to seize the opportunities and adapt to the new, increasingly digital economy.