Defecting French ex-PM Valls is told he must join Macron's party

Reuters News
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Posted: May 10, 2017 5:26 AM

By Simon Carraud

PARIS (Reuters) - Socialist ex-prime minister Manuel Valls must join the party of French President-elect Emmanuel Macron if he wants to run for parliament under its banner in June, Macron's camp said on Wednesday.

The news sends a signal to politicians to the left and right of Macron's year-old Republic on the Move party that they cannot sit on the fence as they seek to position themselves for the June elections that will complete the political landscape for the next five years.

Some, like Valls, want to be part of a Macron majority, but others are preparing for opposition, while the main center-right grouping The Republicans hopes to force the independent centrist into a coalition.

Valls, a high-profile politician on the pro-business right of the Socialist party, said on Tuesday he was interested in joining Macron - a move that has angered Socialist colleagues who are trying to prepare to fight the legislative elections after taking a beating in the vote for president.

"As of today, he (Valls) does not fit the criteria that would allow the investiture committee to take him on, so..., (until he joins) the national investiture committee that I preside over cannot consider the candidature of Mr. Valls," Jean-Paul Delevoye, who chooses Macron's party's candidates, told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday.

Macron served as economy minister in a Socialist government under Valls, but left to make his successful bid for president at the head of his own start-up party.

Though Macron's party does not have any members in the current parliament, Macron and his aides are hoping to secure a majority in June to allow him to push through economic reforms to revive an economy beset by high unemployment and sluggish growth.

Macron's camp has said the names of Macron's 577 candidates for the legislative elections will be announced on Thursday.

Macron's team is being careful not to favor either side too heavily, and is especially wary of appearing too close to the deeply unpopular outgoing Socialist government.

The Republicans, the main center-right party whose candidate like that of the Socialists was eliminated in a first vote for president on April 23, were preparing on Wednesday to unveil a policy platform that softens some of the hard-line measures it was proposing during the presidential campaign.

(Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Richard Balmforth)