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French interior minister drops presidential ambition, backs ex-PM

By AFP
11 December 2023   |   11:25 am
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.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Palais de Chaillot during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris on December 10, 2023. (Photo by Mohammed BADRA / POOL / AFP)

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.

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