Posts Tagged ‘Manuel Valls’

French Socialist candidate livid as ex-PM Valls defects to Macron

March 29, 2017
By Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta
Reuters — March 29, 2017
French Socialist candidate livid as ex-PM Valls defects to Macron

By Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) – Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday he would vote for Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election, becoming the biggest Socialist Party name to turn his back on its official candidate and support the centrist instead.

While it was not clear if Valls’ defection would benefit poll favourite Macron, who politely thanked Valls, it prompted angry responses from many Socialists and media speculation about the survival of the largest left-wing party.

Manuel Valls (R) with Emmanuel Macron - file pic 2014
Manuel Valls (R) said it was a responsible position to back the centrist candidate

France’s ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls has thrown his weight behind the centrist candidate for the presidency, Emmanuel Macron, and not his own Socialist party’s candidate.

Valls, whose announcement came days after veteran Socialist defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian deserted to Macron, said he wanted to do all he could to ensure that far-right leader Marine Le Pen, second-placed in opinion polls, did not win power.

“I’m not going to take any risks,” Valls said, adding that he believed Le Pen’s score potential was seriously underrated. “I will vote for Emmanuel Macron,” he told BFM TV.

French opinion polls show Macron winning the presidency in a second-round vote on May 7 where he would face off against Le Pen. They show Socialist Benoit Hamon set for a humiliating fifth place in the first round eliminator on April 23.

Hamon, a hardline Socialist who wants to legalise cannabis and create a monthly state payment for all, is on course to win only 10 percent of the vote in the first round, according to an Elabe poll published on Wednesday.

Hamon denounced Valls’ defection and called on all left-wingers to unite behind him 25 days from round one of the election. “I urge you to sanction those who’ve started this morbid game…those who no longer believe in anything,” he said in a statement.

Valls said his choice did not mean he would campaign for the 39-year-old Macron – a fellow minister in President Francois Hollande’s government from 2014, but who quit last year to prepare a presidential bid under his own political banner En Marche! (Onwards!).

Valls, who lost to radical left-winger Hamon in the Socialist primaries, is seen by political sources and experts as likely to wait in the wings and seek to build a reformist parliamentary force that would be distinct from En Marche!, but which could get a say in its parliamentary majority should Macron become president.

“I have nothing to negotiate and am not asking for anything, I’m not joining his camp,” Valls said. “But nothing will be the same after this presidential election…The duty of reformists is to play their part in a governing parliamentary majority.”

Macron, who has drawn support from the political right as well as left, was also quick to say he did not plan to bring Valls into his government. “I shall be the guarantor of new faces, new ways of doing things,” he said on Europe 1 Radio.

The news came a day after third-placed candidate Francois Fillon, under formal judicial investigation on suspicion of financial impropriety, suffered a further blow when his British wife Penelope was put under formal investigation as well.

The inquiry centres on allegations that the couple misused hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds, with him paying her a lavish tax-funded salary for minimal work as his parliamentary assistant.

Francois Fillon has conceded what he called errors of judgment but denies doing anything illegal.


Valls’ endorsement is a mixed blessing for Macron, even though their political views are not far apart.

Fillon, who has promised to slash government spending, seized on Valls’ move to say their would be no break with the past under Macron as both men were key ministers under Hollande.

“All of Hollande’s team is backing Emmanuel Macron. It’s as I’ve always said, Emmanuel Macron is Francois Hollande,” Fillon told reporters.

For many Socialists, and above all candidate Hamon, Valls’ decision comes from a man who represents Hollande’s rightward turn during his five-year mandate towards the business-friendly reforms that upset the left and alienated core voters.

The blow for Hamon clearly compounded existing left-right splits within the party.

“Everybody now knows what a commitment signed by a man like Manuel Valls is worth,” Arnaud Montebourg, a more hardline leftist in the Socialist Party, said on Twitter.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Michel Rose and Leigh Thomas; writing by Andrew Callus and Brian Love editing by Mark Heinrich)


Valls vs Hamon: French head to polls for Socialist presidential primary

January 29, 2017


© AFP archive | French Socialist hopefuls Manuel Valls (L) and Benoit Hamon (R)

Video by FRANCE 24


Latest update : 2017-01-29

French Socialists will choose between reformist ex-prime minister Manuel Valls and leftwinger Benoit Hamon in a presidential primary runoff Sunday, overshadowed by a scandal engulfing the conservative election frontrunner.

Valls, 54, says his experience as the president’s former right-hand man makes him a more credible choice than Hamon, 49, who is leading the Socialist race with radical proposals on work, state aid and the environment.


Whoever wins will face an uphill task with polls showing the Socialist candidate being eliminated in the first round of the election in April after five years of economic stagnation under unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande.

The contest is being watched closely after Britain’s vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States.

Forecasts currently show conservative candidate Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen out in front, ahead of the centrist Emmanuel Macron. The top two candidates from the April 23 first round will go through to the May 7 runoff.

Fillon’s campaign has, however, been dealt a serious blow by claims that he used public money to give his wife a “fake job”.

French authorities this week opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Fillon’s Welsh-born wife Penelope collected half a million euros ($534,000) over eight years as a parliamentary aide to her husband and his successor — for little to no work.

Investigators are also looking into payments she received from a magazine owned by a friend of Fillon.

Fillon, who won the conservative Republicans’ nomination last year with promises to slash public spending and restore morality in politics, has insisted that his wife played a real role and complained he is the victim of a smear campaign.

On Sunday, he will address a Paris rally to try to shore up his support, after an Odoxa poll Friday which showed his approval ratings falling four points to 38 percent.

Hours ahead of the gathering in the capital he vowed in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that he would fight “to the end” against the “forces at work to silence me and to weaken my candidacy”.

Macron, Melenchon winners?

The Socialist primary has confirmed a gaping chasm within the ruling party, between a pragmatic, centre-left camp led by Valls and President Francois Hollande and a staunchly leftist faction around Hamon.

Hamon won a first round of voting last week that whittled the candidates down from seven to two, taking 36 percent to Valls’ 31.5 percent.

One of the biggest potential winners of the primary could be former economy minister Macron.

The 39-year-old former investment banker, who quit the Socialist government last year to run for president as a centrist, has been drawing large crowds at his rallies and creeping up on Fillon and Le Pen in polls.

He is tipped for further gains if, as expected, Hamon wins the Socialist nod over Valls, with Socialist moderates turned off by Hamon’s tax-and-spend programme expected to decamp to Macron.

Valls has said he will not support Hamon’s programme if the latter wins.

If the tough-talking ex-premier emerges victorious, there could also be a flight from the Socialist camp.

Some leftwingers have said they would shift their support to far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, rather than back Valls.

Melenchon is currently running in fourth in election polls.

‘The real Fillon’

Hamon’s ideas dominated the primary, particularly his proposal to introduce a universal basic income to offset dwindling work opportunities in an age of automation.

Valls argued that the plan for a handout that would eventually reach 750 euros a month would “ruin” France and said a Hamon victory would spell “certain defeat” for the Socialists in the presidential race.

Both Valls and Hamon have insisted that everything is still to play for.

Valls said Friday that Fillon’s woes showed that the election “was not over”.

Le Pen told TF1 television Saturday that Fillon, who has pledged to quit the race if charged over his wife’s payments, faced a “trust problem”.

“The French are rightfully asking themselves: who is the real Fillon? Is this not a man who likes money and who manoeuvred to enrich himself?” she said.

Divided French left seeks presidential candidate

January 22, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© Joel Saget, AFP | Seven candidates are taking part in a presidential primary organised by the Socialist Party and its allies.

Video by FRANCE 3

Latest update : 2017-01-22

French leftists will hold a first-round primary on Sunday to narrow the field of possible presidential candidates. Whoever emerges the winner, however, is likely to face a resounding defeat by France’s conservatives in April-May elections.

With the ruling Socialists plummeting in popularity, the French left is bitterly divided. President François Hollande’s approval rating sank to a low of 4 percent late last year, largely on his failure to boost the economy and lower an unemployment rate that continues to hover near 10 percent.

Against this backdrop it seems unlikely that any leftist candidate will advance beyond the April 23 first round of the presidential election. Most polls predict that conservative François Fillon of Les Républicains party and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen will face off in the May 7 second round.

Nevertheless, left-wing voters on Sunday will choose between seven candidates in a primary organised by the ruling Socialists. The winner and runner-up will then compete in a January 29 run-off to decide who will represent the leftists in the presidential vote.

Campaigning is likely to focus on France’s centrists and the moderate left, a vast electorate that includes factory workers, shopkeepers and Paris professional elites.

Socialist ex-prime minister Manuel Valls, 54, is looking to lure centrists as well as the party’s more conservative members. As Hollande’s interior minister, Spanish-born Valls became known as the Socialists’ own right wing. He went on to take a hard line on dismantling Roma camps in Paris and threatened to ban the protests that erupted after he pushed through Hollande’s controversial labour reforms.

Arnaud Montebourg has only stepped up his criticism of the Socialist administration since being asked to resign as economy minister in 2014, claiming Hollande’s government has betrayed the hopes and aspirations of the left. An advocate of protectionist policies and a strong state, the 54-year-old has proposed reserving 80 percent of all public contracts for French businesses, in contravention of EU rules.

Benoît Hamon, 49, has placed social and environmental issues at the heart of his platform, proposing a universal basic income to be financed through an overhaul of France’s tax system. Hamon says the digital age calls for a new social model in which the shrinking workload is spread out more evenly across society, allowing people more leisure time.

Former education minister Vincent Peillon, 56, has positioned himself as a moderate, consensus-building reformist. At a time of jingoistic patriotism and widespread EU-bashing, he has struck a rare Europhile note by calling for a “European New Deal” built around harmonised tax laws, shared social rights and a common eurozone budget aimed at stimulating growth.

Ecologist Party candidate François de Rugy, 43, the deputy head of France’s National Assembly, casts himself as a pragmatic reformist. He has called for a gradual transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and an end to all carbon-emitting transport by 2025. Other proposals include legalising euthanasia and making it compulsory to vote in national elections.

Sylvia Pinel’s last-minute decision to take part in the primary spared the left the embarrassment of having an all-male competition. The 39-year-old’s Radical Party has put together a business-friendly platform that includes slashing corporate taxes and giving companies fiscal incentives to offer employees long-term contracts.

Jean-Luc Bennahmias, 62, of the Democratic Front party also plans to introduce some kind of universal basic income and advocates a total transition to renewable energy and sustainable farming, as well as the legalisation of cannabis.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)


National Front leader Marine Le Pen. AFP

France’s Socialist Party nationwide presidential primary looks for a candidate but critics say chances of keeping the presidency are small

January 22, 2017

PARIS — French left-wing voters are casting ballots in a nationwide presidential primary aimed at producing a candidate strong enough to confront formidable conservative and nationalist rivals in the April-May general election.

Seven candidates from the Socialist Party and its allies are running in Sunday’s first round of voting. The top two vote-getters advance to a runoff Jan. 29.

Center-leaning former Prime Minister Manuel Valls  is a leading contender, but faces formidable challenges from harder-core leftists Arnaud Montebourg and Benoit Hamon, both former government ministers.



Manuel Valls. Getty Images

The primary’s winner will have tough competition from candidates on the far left, center, right and far right in a campaign marked by anti-immigrant populism and economic stagnation.

President Francois Hollande declined to seek re-election, fearing his record-low popularity would hurt the Socialists’ chances of keeping the presidency.


National Front leader Marine Le Pen. AFP


Marine Le Pen Extols Far Right During Speech in Germany

KOBLENZ, Germany — Marine Le Pen wasted no time in proclaiming 2017 as the year of far-right awakening in Europe.

“We are living through the end of one world, and the birth of another,” Ms. Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front party, told a cheering gathering of members of European right-wing parties on Saturday in this Rhine River city to chart a joint path to success in elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year.

“In 2016, the Anglo-Saxon world woke up,” Ms. Le Pen said. “In 2017, I am sure that it will be the year of the Continental peoples rising up.”

The triumph of anti-Europeans in Britain and Donald J. Trump in the United States has galvanized the Continent’s far-right parties, who are making appeals to disillusioned voters already bitter over social inequality, loss of sovereignty and waves of migration. And, amid suspicions that Russia is trying to destabilize the Continent by allying with the right, Europe’s mainstream parties may be forced into awkward, or ineffectual coalitions, to preserve their power and keep extremists out.


In the Presidential Election in France, Candidates Promise Modest but Regular Stipends to all French Adults — I am, therefore I’m paid.

January 17, 2017

The Associated Press

 We are in a world where technology replaces existing jobs and basic income becomes necessary.

No automatic alt text available.

PARIS (AP) — I am, therefore I’m paid.

The radical notion that governments should hand out free money to everyone – rich and poor, those who work and those who don’t – is slowly but surely gaining ground in Europe. Yes, you read that right: a guaranteed monthly living allowance, no strings attached.

In France, two of the seven candidates vying to represent the ruling Socialist Party in this year’s presidential election are promising modest but regular stipends to all French adults. A limited test is already underway in Finland, with other experiments planned elsewhere, including in the United States.

Called “universal income” by some, “universal basic income” or just “basic income” by others, the idea has been floated in various guises since at least the mid-19th century. After decades on the fringes of intellectual debate, it became more mainstream in 2016, with Switzerland holding a referendum – and overwhelmingly rejecting – a proposed basic income of around $2,500 per month.

“An incredible year,” says Philippe Van Parijs, a founder of the Basic Income Earth Network that lobbies for such payments. “There has been more written and said on basic income than in the whole history of mankind.”

But before you write a resignation letter to your boss in anticipation of never needing to work again, be warned: there are multiple questions, including how to finance such schemes. Here is a look at the issues:


In a word, robots. With automated systems and machines increasingly replacing human workers, France could lose 3 million jobs by 2025, says Benoit Hamon, a former education minister campaigning for the French presidency on a promise of gradually introducing no-strings-attached payments for all. As work becomes scarcer, a modest but regular guaranteed income would stop people from fearing the future and free up their time for family, the needy and themselves, he argues.

It could also encourage people to take risks, start businesses and try new activities without the risk of losing welfare benefits.

The other pro-basic income candidate for the Socialist Party presidential ticket is outsider Jean-Luc Bennahmias. Like Hamon, the former European Parliament lawmaker argues that it is pointless to expect the return of economic boom times, with jobs for all.

“Growth at two, three, four or five percent in western countries: it’s finished,” he said in a televised debate last week. “We have to speak the truth.”

Outside research backs up their arguments. An Oxford University study in 2015 estimated nearly half of the American workforce is at risk of automation.


Finland’s small-scale, two-year trial that started Jan. 1 aims to answer a frequent question from basic income opponents: With a guaranteed 560 euros ($600) a month, will the 2,000 human guinea pigs – drawn randomly from Finland’s unemployed – just laze around?

Budget constraints and opposition from multiple quarters stymied ambitions for a broader test, says Olli Kangas from the Finnish government agency KELA, which is responsible for the country’s social benefits.

“It’s a pretty watered down version,” he said in a telephone interview. “We had to make a huge number of compromises.”

Still, he argues that such studies are essential in helping societies prepare for changed labor markets of the future.

“I’m not saying that basic income is the solution,” he said. “I’m just saying that it’s a solution that we have to think about.”

In the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht this year plans to trial no-strings welfare payments that will also allow test groups to work on the side if they choose – again, in part, to study the effect on their motivation to find work.

To prepare for “a world where technology replaces existing jobs and basic income becomes necessary,” Silicon Valley startup financier Y Combinator says it plans a pilot study in Oakland, California, paying recipients an unconditional income because “we want to see how people experience that freedom.”


Obviously, expensive. Hamon proposes the gradual introduction of basic income schemes in France, starting with 600 euros ($640) per month for the nation’s poor and 18-25-year-olds before scaling up payments to 750 euros ($800) for all adults – for a total estimated annual cost of 400 billion euros ($425 billion).

Part of the cost could be financed by taxing goods and services produced by automated systems and machines, he says. Opponents argue that doing so would simply prompt companies to move robots elsewhere, out of reach of French tax collectors.

Doing away with housing, family, poverty and unemployment benefits could free up more than 100 billion euros ($106 billion) to fold into a replacement basic income scheme.

There’d also be less red tape, saving money that way, too, but switching to basic income would still require new taxes, a 2016 Senate report said.

It estimated that paying everyone 500 to 1,000 euros ($530-$1,100) per month would cost 300 billion to 700 billion euros ($745 billion-$320 billion) annually. It recommended starting with three-year pilot schemes with trials involving 20,000-30,000 people.


Costs aside, opponents argue that guaranteed incomes would promote laziness and devalue the concept of work. Hamon’s opponents for the Socialist presidential ticket dispute as false his argument that jobs for humans are growing scarcer.

Ultimately, to see the light of day, basic income schemes will need political champions, said Van Parijs.

“We need radical ideas as targets and then we need clever tinkering to move in that direction,” he said.


French left mulls universal basic income ahead of primaries — Critics say it would create a “society of dependence and laziness”

January 12, 2017


© Pascal Guyot, AFP | Left wing primaries candidate Benoit Hamon is calling for universal basic income for all French citizens over the age of 18.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-01-12

The idea of giving French citizens a universal basic income has become a central issue ahead of the left wing primaries to choose a candidate for this year’s presidential election. The primaries take place on January 22 and 29.

Universal basic income would be funded by tax increases, while (in theory) much of the money handed out would be reinjected into the economy, boosting growth and employment opportunities, while lowering poverty and cutting government red tape by replacing complex and diverse unemployment benefits schemes.

‘Erosion of employment’

There are seven candidates for January’s primaries, with polls putting former prime minister Manuel Valls in the lead for the first round.

However, the same polls show that voting intentions are evenly split in the second round between Valls and a handful of leading candidates.

>> Read more on “Who are the candidates in France’s left-wing presidential primary?”

One of these front runners, Benoit Hamon is a firm supporter of a universal basic income, of between 750 and 800 euros a month, which would be paid to every single French citizen aged 18 and over, regardless of whether they are employed or not.

Hammon, whom polls give a 50-50 chance against Valls in a second round, sees the universal basic income as an essential measure given the “probable erosion of employment as a result of the digital revolution” which will see ever more automation of jobs.

A ‘decent income’ for the worst off

“I believe in a society that is employed,” centrist Arnaud Montebourg this week. “Work is what dignifies citizenship.”

His view is supported by Christian Paul, a Socialist MP who is not running for president: “Universal basic income would resign us to mass unemployment.”

Manuel Valls said he objected in principle to donating money to everyone from the “factory worker to [billionaire L’Oréal heiress] Liliane Bettencourt”.

Valls, instead, wants to give a “decent income” of around 800 euros to France’s poorest, but is against creating a “society of dependence and laziness”.

Massive cost

Giving each adult French citizen a free handout of 750 euros per month would cost the French state some 450 billion euros a year, or “the equivalent of the entire state budget”, according to Montebourg, who said such a project would be “impossible”.

Hamon believes that the universal basic income could be introduced in stages, starting with young people aged 18-25, “to help them integrate into society and the jobs market, and funded by a wealth tax and an initial state payout of 45 billion euros”.

Hammon said a basic unemployment benefits scheme (called RSA), currently at 535 euros a month, should be raised immediately to 600 euros and given to all unemployed, whether they apply for it or not (at the moment, one third of people who are eligible for the RSA do not apply for it).

Finns experiment, Swiss reject

On January 1, 2017, Finland became the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income in an experiment with 2,000 randomly chosen jobseekers.

Each will receive 560 euros every month, with no reporting requirements on how they spend it. The amount will be deducted from any benefits they already receive.

Voters in Switzerland strongly defeated a referendum on whether to introduce the measure in 2016, with 77 percent voting against the proposals.

Marine Le Pen leads in poll for first round of French presidential voting

January 11, 2017

Marine Le Pen is currently the most popular politician in France, but the way the French presidential election works, she is unlikely to end up in the Élysée Palace

Marine Le Pen is currently the most popular politician in France, but the way the French presidential election works, she is unlikely to end up in the Élysée Palace

  •  Marine Le Pen, of the National Front, is ahead in the polls with 26.5 percent 
  •  But in the second round of voting she is likely to be defeated by Francois Fillon
  •  In 2002 her father Jean-Marie was beaten by Jacques Chirac in second round 
  •  Mr Fillon said today that France needs to introduce a form of immigration quotas

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Far-Right National Front, is ahead in the polls as France heads towards the first round of presidential elections in the spring.

Polls put her on 26.5 percent, ahead of Mr Fillon, a conservative former prime minister, who is on 25 percent.

But only two candidates make it into the second round of the presidential election in May and Ms Le Pen is expected to be defeated ultimately by Mr Fillon, with most Socialists expected to prefer him as the lesser of two evils.

In 2002 Ms Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie, who founded the National Front, made it into the second round, pipping the Socialist Lionel Jospin, but was thrashed by 82 percent to 17 percent by conservative Jacques Chirac, who garnered support from many on the Left.

The ruling Socialists are set to choose their candidate later this month – Manuel Valls, who stepped down as prime minister last month is the frontrunner but is almost as unpopular as outgoing President Francois Hollande.


© AFP / by Charlotte PLANTIVE, Clare BYRNE | French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister who is running as an independent, is currently estimated to get 17 percent of the vote in the first round.

The latest poll, by Ifop Fiducial for Paris Match, suggests Mr Fillon would beat Ms Le Pen by 64 percent to 36 percent in the second round.

But if Mr Macron made it to the runoff he would actually beat Mr Fillon by 52 percent to 48 percent.

Francois Fillon (pictured, right) is a former prime minister who is married to Welsh-born Penelope Clarke (left) 

Francois Fillon (pictured, right) is a former prime minister who is married to Welsh-born Penelope Clarke (left)

The poll, which had a margin of error of 1.3 percent, was conducted last week and was based on a sample of 1,860 people registered to vote.

Mr Fillon, who is battling it out with Ms Le Pen for right-wing votes, said today France needs to introduce immigration quotas, although it was not clear how he proposed to do this while remaining inside the European Union.

Before a visit to Menton, on the Italian border, Mr Fillon said: ‘I want France to be able to decide every year the number of people it can accept on its territory.’

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Mr Fillon is holding a rally tonight in Nice, where Tunisian-born ISIS sympathiser Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel (pictured, left) drove a lorry (right) into a crowd, killing 86 people

‘We are full up’: Marine Le Pen dismisses accepting new migrants

Ms Le Pen has proposed France leaving the Schengen Area – the 26 countries which allow access from other European Union states without border control.

Mr Fillon is holding a rally in Nice, where 86 people were killed in July when a ISIS sympathiser drove a lorry into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.

He said he would urge the EU to tighten its asylum and immigration policy to counter threats from Islamist militants.

Mr Fillon, whose wife Penelope is British, also wants to deny social benefits to immigrants who have lived in France for less than two years.

The maverick: Emmanuel Macron (pictured, right, with Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel) is aiming to become the first independent to be elected France's President since 1920

The maverick: Emmanuel Macron (pictured, right, with Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel) is aiming to become the first independent to be elected France’s President since 1920

Mr Fillon said this week he did not back an exit from the Schengen Area.

Ms Le Pen, borrowing from the successful campaign of Donald Trump, said yesterday she wanted French car companies to bring factories back to France and said they would face tariffs if they failed to do so.

She said: ‘He is putting in place measures I have been demanding for years.’

Ms Le Pen said: ‘I don’t mind explaining to French companies that they cannot escape tax that they should be paying in France, that they cannot go offshore without suffering the consequences…A choice has to be made, a choice of patriotism.’

Both Renault and Peugeot have factories in Spain and eastern Europe, where they employ workers on lower wages, making parts for cars assembled in France.

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French Premier Steps Down to Focus on Presidential Election

December 6, 2016

The Associated Press

December 6, 2016


Manuel Valls. Getty Images

PARIS — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stepped down Tuesday to focus on running for president in next year’s election and was replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, a man who embodies the fight against Islamic extremism.

Valls resigned a day after announcing his candidacy in the wake of President Francois Hollande’s decision not to run for a second term last week.

Valls hopes to unite Socialists and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee Palace despite current opinion polls suggesting the second round of the election could pit Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, against conservative Francois Fillon.

The 53-year-old Cazeneuve is a close ally of Hollande and became a popular figure in French politics as the champion of measures tackling extremism in his interior minister role.

Cazeneuve was appointed interior minister in 2014 and had to supervise the response to a series of attacks that have claimed more than 200 lives since January 2015. In total, he championed three counterterrorism laws and one intelligence law. He has also been in charge of implementing France’s state of emergency following the Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

After a brief meeting with Valls at the Elysee, Hollande posted a message on Twitter announcing Cazeneuve’s appointment, which was also confirmed by the presidential palace press office.

Bruno Le Roux, the head of the Socialist group in Parliament’s lower house, was appointed as the new interior minister.

A leading yet divisive figure of the Socialist party, Valls is known for his outspoken, authoritarian style and his tough views on immigration and security.

Valls is the top contender in the primary next month for Socialist candidates and their allies before France’s two-part presidential election in April and May. But he will face tough competition from fellow Socialists.

Valls has been harshly criticized by members of his own party after championing tough labor reforms and endorsing a controversial ban last summer on the Islamic “burkini” swimsuit.

Cazeneuve was the mayor of the northern city of Cherbourg-Octeville for more than a decade before being appointed to government minister positions since 2012.

Widely regarded as a hard worker, Cazeneuve was Hollande’s spokesman during the president’s winning campaign in 2012 and the two enjoy a trusting relationship.


Samuel Petrequin contributed to this report.



  • Monday 25 August 2014

The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigned today after only five months in office but will form a new government tomorrow excluding a senior minister who attacked his economic policy at the weekend.

The dramatic resignation of Mr Valls was an attempt to re-assert the authority of the Prime Minister and President François Hollande in the face of the most serious government crisis of the Hollande presidency.

The left-wing Economy Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, made outspoken attacks at the weekend on the deficit-slashing policies of France and the Eurozone which he blamed on the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. His opinion is shared by at least 50 parliamentary members of the ruling Socialist party and was supported on Sunday by the education minister, Benoît  Hamon.

After a one-hour crisis meeting with Mr Valls this morning, Mr Hollande announced that he had asked Mr Valls “to form a new team with is consistent with policy directions he has defined for the country”. The new government is almost certain to exclude Mr Montebourg.


It is not clear whether other senior ministers who have called for a change in economic policy – including Mr Hamon and the justice minister Christiane Taubira – will also be fired.

In an interview and a speech at the weekend, Mr Montebourg, one of the two ministers who manage French economic policy, attacked the “forced march” of rapid deficit-cutting within the Eurozone and blamed the German Chancellor . He said that the policy was an “economic aberration” imposed by  Ms Merkel’s “right-wing dogma” which was “throwing Europe into the arms of extremist parties which want to destroy Europe”.

Mr Valls and Mr Hollande have already let it be known that they would seek a further softening of the Eurozone budget deficit rules next month. The Prime Minister was due to travel to Berlin with Mr Montebourg to make France’s case. President Hollande is believed to have decided that the vituperative language against Ms Merkel used by Mr Monebourg at the weekend had made it impossible for him to stay in the government.

French Interior Minister Cazeneuve to succeed Valls as prime minister

December 6, 2016


© Thomas Samson, AFP | French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (pictured left) will succeed Manuel Valls (right) as prime minister.


Latest update : 2016-12-06

Bernard Cazeneuve, currently French interior minister, will replace Manuel Valls as the country’s new prime minister, President François Hollande’s office said on Tuesday.

“He’s a strong personality, with experience of state affairs,” said a source in the president’s entourage, commenting on Cazeneuve’s appointment.

Valls is stepping down in order to seek the Socialist Party’s nomination to be its presidential candidate in the 2017 election.


French PM Manuel Valls to Announce Bid for Presidential Election

December 5, 2016

PARIS — Socialist French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is to announce later on Monday that he will run for president in next year’s election, Agence France-Presse and French television reported.


© AFP / by Charlotte PLANTIVE, Clare BYRNE | French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

Valls’ office issued a statement that he would make a declaration at 1730 GMT at the town hall in Evry, just south of Paris, but it gave no further details.

His expected announcement follows a primary ballot in which Francois Fillon, a 62-year-old former prime minister, secured a resounding win to become the presidential candidate of the center-right Les Republicains party.

France’s presidential election takes place in two rounds next April and May.

The ruling Socialists, behind Les Republicains and the far-right National Front parties in current opinion polls, are organizing a primary in January to pick their candidate.

Valls has long been seen as a presidential candidate, and his status as the Socialists’ likely choice for 2017 was cemented further last week after Francois Hollande’s shock announcement that he would not seek a second term.

A snap opinion poll, conducted on Thursday night after Hollande’s statement, showed that Socialist voters and French voters as a whole wanted to see Valls win the party ticket to run for president next year.

The Socialists face a tough battle over whether they should be more centrist or veer more to the left to try and regain the popularity they have lost since Hollande was elected in 2012.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Paul Tait)