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France

Former Socialist PM Valls to seek parliamentary seat for Macron's party

© RTL screen grab | Archival picture shows former French prime minister Manuel Valls speaking on RTL radio in February 2015

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-05-09

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday he wants to turn his back on the Socialists and run under President-elect Emmanuel Macron's political movement in the June elections in the lower house of parliament.

"I will be a candidate in the presidential majority and I wish to join up to his movement, namely La République en Marche (The Republic on the Move)," Valls told RTL radio.

The former prime minister who served under President François Hollande from April 2014 to December 2016 -- when he quit to run in the 2017 presidential primary – proclaimed the Socialist party “dead and behind us”.

Macron is working to obtain a majority in the lower house of parliament in June elections.

'The Socialist Party is dead'

All 577 seats in France's lower chamber are up for grabs in the country's two-part June 11 and June 18 parliamentary election. Macron's 577 candidates are expected to be announced Thursday and Macron himself will be sworn in on Sunday.

Both Macron and Valls served together in Hollande’s cabinet, the former as economy minister before he quit to form the En Marche! movement. A day after Macron’s election triumph, the movement was renamed La République en Marche (LREM). Valls is hoping to run in the Essonne department, his fiefdom south of Paris, but LREM officials said his nomination would not be automatic.

"All support for the president is welcome," said Jean-Paul Delevoye, head of LREM’s panel assessing the candidates. "But support doesn't necessarily translate into a nomination. (Valls’s) voice is not insignificant, but his candidacy will be treated like anyone else's."

Leave and ‘let us work’

A left-centrist politician in favour of relaxing France's tight labour protections, Valls lost the Socialist party's presidential primary to Benoît Hamon. Following his defeat, Valls supported Macron on the campaign trail.

Hamon came in a distant fifth in the first round of France's presidential election, capturing just over 6 percent of the vote, the Socialist Party's worst result since 1969. The poor result has triggered a fierce debate within the Socialists about whether to stick with Hamon's left-wing platform or to switch back to the more centrist views of Valls and his allies.

Socialist Party official Jean-Christophe Cambadélis stressed Tuesday that it is "impossible" to remain a Socialist party member and run for office under the LREM banner.

"If some (people) want to leave and go apart, they can do so and let us work," he said.

Will Macron get parliamentary majority?

Valls said Macron's victory Sunday over far-right leader Marine Le Pen was a blow to populism across Europe that gave a "terrific" image of France to countries abroad.

"The old parties are dying or are already dead," Valls said. "I'm not living with regrets. I want Emmanuel Macron, his government and his majority to succeed, for France. I will be a candidate in the presidential majority and I wish to join his movement.”

Macron has said he is aiming for an absolute majority in the lower chamber in June's elections. If so, he'll be able to choose a prime minister. If another party wins a majority, Macron could be pressured to choose a prime minister from that party.

If Macron's party performs poorly, he could also be forced to form a coalition government, a common occurrence in many European countries but something very unusual in France.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-05-09

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