Former French prime minister Manuel Valls has thrown his weight behind the campaign of independent Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, giving a massive boost to his chances of defeating far-right rival Marine Le Pen.
Valls is a member of the current ruling Socialist party. However, he rejected his party’s candidate Benoit Hamon in an interview with French television channel BFM TV.
He said he would not “take a risk for the Republic” by backing Hamon. He said he will vote for Macron in order to prevent Francois Fillon from beating him.
Macron has also drawn defectors from other parties as he has begun to emerge as the consensus anti-Le Pen candidate.
In the French voting system the top two candidates go into a run-off vote if there is no majority in the first round. Many polls show National Front candidate Le Pen winning the first round, although she is expected to lose by a wide margin if she faces Macron in the final round.
Polls indicate the Socialist candidate could finish fifth in the first round of voting. However, a stronger showing for Hamon could theoretically take votes away from Macron.
Manuel Valls : "Je voterai pour Emmanuel Macron, je prends mes responsabilités" pic.twitter.com/zmFdjz80IQ— BFMTV (@BFMTV) March 29, 2017
Macron’s campaign has gathered momentum since former favourite Francois Fillon saw his campaign’s appeal to firm moral values heavily damaged by a steady stream of revelations about the employment of his wife for work she allegedly did not carry out.
Penelope Fillon has now been formally placed under investigation, the French equivalent of being charged, according to Reuters. She is accused of embezzling public funds.
Macron has polled consistently just behind Le Pen, with the latest survey by Opinionway showing the former on 24 per cent behind the National Front candidate’s 26 per cent.
Macron, who was previously a minister in current President Francois Hollande’s administration, is pursuing a centre-left, pro-business platform at odds with Le Pen’s anti-euro protectionism and strident anti-immigration rhetoric.
The spread between German and French 10-year debt, widely seen as a proxy for investors’ political concerns, narrowed slightly on Wednesday morning.