French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a member of the ruling Socialist Party (PS), intends to support independent candidate Emmanuel Macron at the presidential elections instead of PS candidate Benoit Hamon, but is unlikely to announce his choice until the official list of candidates is published, local media reported Thursday.
“I am announcing to you that I am going to support Emmanuel Macron. I have made my decision,” Le Drian told French President Francois Hollande late on Wednesday, as quoted by the BFMTV broadcaster.
However, Hollande reportedly asked Le Drian to postpone the official declaration of support for Macron until March 20, which is the deadline for publishing the final list of official candidates by the Constitutional Council.
Earlier on Thursday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault hinted that he preferred Macron over far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen and conservative candidate Francois Fillon.
An OpinionWay poll published earlier on Thursday showed that Le Pen is most likely to win the first round of the presidential election, scheduled for April 23, with 26 percent of the votes. However, the leader of far-right National Front party is expected to be defeated in the May run-off by either Fillon or Macron, who are projected to win with 62 percent and 64 percent of the votes, respectively, if they stand against Le Pen. Hamon is forecast to receive 15 percent of votes in the first round.
Macron served as the minister of the economy, industry and digital affairs in Hollande’s government in 2014-2016, but left in order to start working on his presidential campaign.