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France Elysée Presidential election

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Macron to resign clearing way for presidential bid

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron (C) flanked by French "Mouvement pour la France" (MPF) president, and creator of the Puy-du-Fou theme park Philippe De Villiers (L) and President of the Puy-du-Fou theme park Nicolas de Villiers (R), winks as he talk AFP/Loïc Venance

France's 38-year-old economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, will step down on Tuesday, aides said, fuelling speculation that he will bid for the presidency in next year's elections.

"He told his cabinet... that he would leave the government after he tenders his resignation to the president this afternoon," one of his aides said.

The news magazine Marianne said the reform-minded minister would meet with President Francois Hollande at 3:00 pm on Tuesday to hand in his resignation.

Macron strongly hinted at a presidential run last month, prompting a reprimand from Hollande, who threatened to sack him unless he respected the "solidarity" of the Socialist government he joined in 2014.

Applauded by liberals for challenging the key planks of French Socialism such as the 35-hour work week, the former Rothschild banker is criticised by die-hard leftists as being too cosy with big business.

Macron launched his own political movement, called "En Marche" (On the Move), in April, and in a speech last month he left little doubt about his presidential ambitions, pledging to lead the movement "to 2017 and to victory".

Hollande, whose approval ratings are the lowest of any post-war French president, has pledged not to seek re-election if he fails to rein in stubbornly high unemployment, which is hovering at around 10 percent.

The first round of the presidential vote is set for April 23, 2017.