Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

France’s powerful Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has indicated he is no longer interested in running for the presidency in 2027, saying that former prime minister Edouard Philippe is best placed to succeed Emmanuel Macron.

Although some three-and-a-half years away, jostling for position had already started ahead of the 2027 election with pro-Macron centrist 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 has founded his own political party Horizons which is allied to, but not part of, the president’s Renaissance outfit.

“Right now, I think that Edouard Philippe is the best placed,” Darmanin, 41, told online media Brut in an interview 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 the age of 40,” he said, while adding that “we can never say never”.

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

A Darmanin candidacy had also been endorsed by his political mentor ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy in his latest book.

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

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

“I think we have to support the best placed candidate because I believe that Mrs Le Pen can win the presidential election. I think it is dangerous for our country, even if I respect Mrs Le Pen,” Darmanin said.

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

Philippe, regarded by friends and foes alike as a canny political operator, had yet to formally declare his intention to run although he has dropped so many hints most commentators have little doubt.

Now mayor of the Normandy port city of Le Havre, his appearance has changed dramatically from when he was prime minister at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic due to skin and hair conditions. But he had made clear this has had no impact on his general health.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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