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France: Valls Announces Presidential Candidacy | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday he would run for president. PHOTO: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Paris – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigned from position to declare himself a candidate for the presidency saying he will try to receive the candidacy of the Socialist Party.

Valls said his resignation as prime minister would take effect on Tuesday.

The Socialist PM doesn’t hesitate to cross red lines and leftist taboos, but his method and extreme defense on secularism alienates part of his camp.

He is seen as a divisive figure on the left, after forcing labor reforms through parliament and endorsing controversial bans last summer on the Islamic “burkini” swimsuit.

Between 2012 and 2014, Valls divided his party with attempts to make the job market more flexible, as well as his anti-immigration stance and strict secularist views on women wearing the Islamist hijab.

In 2014, Valls said that the Left wing nostalgic to the past should be over. Earlier, in 2007, he suggested changing the name of the Socialist Party, but he refrained from that later on to broaden his electoral base.

“I want us to lead the left to victory!” Valls said, urging his much-divided camp to unite. “We must unite: My candidacy is one of conciliation, of reconciliation,” he added.

Analysts say Valls may be damaged by his close association with President Francois Hollande, France’s least popular leader in recent history.

Born in Barcelona to a Spanish father and a Swiss-Spanish mother, who later left a country ruled by General Francisco Franco. He joined the Socialist party aged 17 to support Michel Rocard, the then prime minister who pushed for market-oriented economic policies.

Valls was on Rocard’s administration as an adviser 1988 – 1991.

If elected president, Valls would be the first French leader who was not born French – he took French citizenship aged 20, three years after joining the Socialist Party.

On Monday evening, Valls declared: “I may have had hard words but I have always rallied the ranks of the party.”
He stressed that wants to unify saying: “Each of us will have to make an effort. I will make an effort.”