Valls Makes French Presidential Bid, Steps Down as Premier

PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday announced his candidacy for next year’s presidential election, saying he will step down from his current job to focus on his bid.

Valls will face other contenders in the Socialist primary next month.

“I want to give everything for France,” the 54-year-old said in a speech in the Paris suburb of Evry, adding he would quit as prime minister on Tuesday.

Valls’ announcement comes a few days after unpopular president Francois Hollande said he will not run again, in the hope of giving the Socialist party a chance to win in the April-May presidential election with a different candidate.

Valls said he wants to defeat the far-right, led by National Front leader Marine Le Pen, and conservative candidate Francois Fillon.

A center-leaning Socialist with a tough line on security and immigration, Valls is somewhat more popular than his boss, but their party is in deep disarray over the government’s handling of the economy.

He is now considered the favorite for the Socialist primary, but needs to overcome divisions within the party.

“My candidacy is that of conciliation, of reconciliation,” Valls promised.

Former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg and former education minister Benoit Hamon, who have joined a group of Socialist rebels opposed to Valls’ pro-business policies, have announced their candidacy, alongside other lower-profile candidates.
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