PARIS (AP) — Emmanuel Macron has found an important ally in his bid to become the next French president.
The centrist independent candidate got the backing of former Paris Mayor Betrand Delanoe, a prominent Socialist figure who won't support the party's official nominee, Benoit Hamon.
Speaking on France Inter radio on Wednesday, Delanoe said supporting Macron is the best way to ensure the far-right won't win the election.
Opinion polls suggest that far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Macron will come out on top in the first-round vote on April 23. The top two go on to compete in the May 7 presidential runoff.
"Maybe in two months the ideology and methods of the far right will rule France. It's haunting me," Delanoe said. "I think we must all ask ourselves the question of our vote in the first round to avoid a disaster in the second round."
Delanoe praised measures in favor of "social justice" in Macron's platform, and said Hamon is struggling to unite the left with his radical proposals. If elected, Hamon has pledged to introduce a universal income to all citizens, a measure that has been criticized by many as too expensive for taxpayers and unrealistic.
"I think that his platform is dangerous because it does not bring the left together," Delanoe said, insisting that he remains on good terms with Hamon. "Also because, from a philosophical standpoint, in its approach to work, it is unable to produce real social progress."
Several other Socialist politicians, including lawmakers and mayors, have publicly announced that they will back Macron.
A telegenic 39-year-old former investment banker, Macron resigned as economy minister last summer, breaking away from unpopular Socialist president Francois Hollande, who declined to seek a second term.