French Interior Minister abandons presidential ambitions and supports former Prime Minister

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French Interior Minister abandons presidential ambitions and supports former Prime Minister

Paris (AFP) – Powerful French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has indicated he is no longer interested in running for president in 2027, saying former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is best placed to succeed Emmanuel Macron.

Published on: 11/12/2023 – 11:05 a.m.

2 minutes

Although about three and a half years away, the fight for the position had already begun ahead of the 2027 elections, with centrist pro-Macron forces seeing far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen as the main challenger.

Macron, who defeated Le Pen in the 2017 and 2022 elections, is only allowed to serve two consecutive terms and cannot run.

Prime minister under Macron from 2017 to 2020, Philippe remains one of France’s most popular politicians and founded his own political party Horizons, allied with, but not part of, the president’s Renaissance party.

“At the moment, I think that Edouard Philippe is best placed,” Darmanin, 41, told online media Brut when asked about his presidential ambitions.

“I don’t particularly dream of being president of the republic. I am very proud to be Minister of the Interior at 40,” he declared, while adding that “you can never say never.”

Darmanin had been seen as a potential candidate, saying in August that “what interests me is no longer looking at what happened in 2017 and 2022. What worries me now is what will happen in 2027.”

Darmanin’s candidacy was also supported by his political mentor, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, in his latest book.

Darmanin is seen as a key right-wing figure within Macron’s centrist government, with a reputation for talking tough on security and immigration.

But Philippe, whose political origins are also on the right, has adopted a similar line in recent weeks.

“I think we should support the best-placed candidate because I believe Ms. Le Pen can win the presidential election. I think it’s dangerous for our country, even if I respect Ms. Le Pen,” Darmanin said.

“I hope that Edouard Philippe can achieve this, if he respects a certain number of things on which we can agree or not,” he added, without specifying.

Philippe, seen by friends and foes alike as a shrewd political operator, has yet to officially declare his intention to run, although he has dropped numerous hints that most commentators have no doubt about.

Now mayor of the Normandy port city of Le Havre, his appearance has changed dramatically since he was prime minister at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic due to skin and hair problems. But he clarified that it had no impact on his general health.

© 2023 AFP

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