Manuel Valls, a credible Plan B for president?

Manuel Valls called for unity among the French left. [Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock]

The French prime minister on Saturday (22 October) stressed the need for the left to unite ahead of next year’s presidential elections. The popularity of Socialist President François Hollande is in decline once again. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

Unity is now the priority for France’s governing party, as serious questions are surfacing over Hollande’s popularity. Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented himself as the French left’s unity candidate at a meeting in Tours on Saturday.

In order to avoid an embarrassing first round elimination in the 2017 presidential election, Valls called on the former members of Hollande’s government to put their differences aside and unite behind their party’s candidate. “I ask Arnaud (Montebourg), Emmanuel (Macron), Benoît (Hamon), Aurélie (Filippetti), what is keeping us apart?”

A credible Plan B

The prime minister has in recent weeks been positioning himself as the Socialist Party’s go-to candidate if Hollande decides not to run for a second term. Many Socialist Party grandees also see him as a credible Plan B.

“The left is the only force with the ability to unite French citizens from outside its normal support base. That will be the key to the second round. We have to get there, nothing can be taken for granted. So we have to react, react quickly, react to stop the decline, react now so we do not die tomorrow. Unity first, then loyalty, and finally, courage,” said Valls.

Ségolène Royal, a possible candidate?

Ségolène Royal made it to the second round in 2007 and came fourth in the Socialist Party’s 2011 primary. Could 2017 be her turn? Royal says she has no current plans to stand.

“If it was winnable, I would be called up,” she told the weekly paper Journal du Dimanche (JDD). “My objective is to continue what I am doing with the COP and to play a greater role in international relations,” she added.

According to the JDD, she may consider putting her name into the hat for the position of UN secretary for climate change.

Hollande’s approval falls again

The latest survey by Ifop-JDD shows Hollande is losing popularity. The president’s approval rating is now just 14%, down one point since September. Some have speculated that this may be linked to the publication of his third book of “confessions”.

Six months before the presidential election, Hollande has lost half of the supporters that elected him in 2012 (28%). And he has a minority of support (46%) in all the age and professional categories that a left wing president can normally take for granted.

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