France election: PM Manuel Valls to run for president

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivers a speech to announce his bid to become the Socialist presidential candidate in the 2017 presidential elections, at the town hall of Evry Image copyright AFP
Image caption Manuel Valls must defeat other contenders in the Socialist primary next month

French Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced he is standing in next year's presidential election.

Mr Valls said he wanted to "give everything for France". He was speaking days after President Francois Hollande announced he would not be running.

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

If successful, he will be set to face Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election in April.

Current polling suggest that Ms Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National, could come in the top two in the first round, but would be likely to lose to the centre-right Mr Fillon in the second.

Who is Manuel Valls?

Image copyright AFP
  • Born in Barcelona in 1962 to a Spanish father and Swiss-Italian mother
  • Moved to France as a teenager and started political career as a parliamentary researcher
  • In 2001 became mayor of Evry, a deprived suburb of Paris
  • Appointed prime minister in March 2014 by Socialist President Francois Hollande
  • Regarded as a tough-talking moderniser

But Mr Valls, who will resign from his government role on Tuesday, is not guaranteed to win the primary, which will involve at least seven other Socialist candidates.

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

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Valls (right) could face ex-colleague Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election

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

However, he used Monday's speech to call on the left to rally behind him - and against the threat of the far right.

"My candidacy is that of conciliation," Mr Valls promised.

If he does become the Socialist candidate, he will be facing a new threat in the form of former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who is standing as a centrist candidate for his newly created party, En Marche.

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