Former French prime minister Manuel Valls has thrown his support behind the presidential candidacy of Emmanuel Macron, his former economy minister.
“I don’t think we should take any risk for the republic and so I will vote for Emmanuel Macron,” the Spanish-born social democrat said.
Valls sought the presidential nomination of his own Socialist Party but was defeated in January by the far-left Benoît Hamon. His center-left policies are closer to Macron’s, who served together with Valls in François Hollande’s government for two years. The two men cut taxes for employers and loosened labor laws.
Defeating Le Pen
Macron earlier won the endorsement of former presidential candidate François Bayrou, another pro-European centrist.
Surveys show Macron vying for first place with the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the first voting round in April. Unless the center-right Republican candidate, François Fillon, makes a comeback, Macron would qualify for the second round in May and almost certainly defeat Le Pen.
Hamon has struggled to get more than 10 percent support.
Left and right
Macron left the Socialist Party to run as an independent. Some of his policies, like lowering the business tax rate and rationalizing unemployment insurance, are opposed by the left. But they have endeared Macron to reform-minded Socialists, including Bertrand Delanoë, the former mayor of Paris, and dozens of lawmakers.
Fillon wants to go further. His program includes massive cuts to the French public sector. This goes too far for moderate conservatives, including Jean Arthuis, Corinne Lepage and Dominique de Villepin, who all served as ministers under Jacques Chirac. They too support Macron.