Former French prime minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday he was leaving the Socialist Party and is ready to join forces with President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist group in parliament – assuming they want him.
Valls, who served as interior minister and then prime minister under former president François Hollande, told French radio that he was walking away from the battered Socialist Party.
“Part of my political life is coming to an end. I am leaving the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Party is leaving me,” the 54-year-old told RTL radio.
The pugnacious, Spanish-born politician was rejected by Socialist party voters in a primary to choose a presidential candidate for this year’s election.
He then infuriated many within the party by announcing he would vote for Macron instead of the Socialist primary winner, Benoît Hamon.
The Socialists were humiliated in the subsequent general elections — winning just 30 seats in the Lower House National Assembly — and Valls held on to his own seat by just 139 votes.
Asked whether he would sit with Macron’s centrist party, which holds a huge majority in the National Assembly, Valls told RTL it was “a possibility”.
Several parliamentary sources later said he would be linked to Macron’s La République en marche (Republic on the Move, LREM), without being a full member.
The former premier had already approached LREM in the run-up to the legislative elections, hoping to secure its support for his campaign.
The party declined to endorse Valls, but chose not to field a candidate against him.
At the time, LREM’s secretary-general, Richard Ferrand, said Valls “did not meet the criteria” of Macron’s desire to renew French politics.