- Title: France's tough-talking PM Valls prepares to enter presidential fray
- Date: 5th December 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - AUGUST 27, 2014) (AGENCY POOL) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, WALKING DOWN STAIRS WITH FRENCH PRIME MINISTER, MANUEL VALLS
- Embargoed: 20th December 2016 12:11
- Keywords: Valls Hollande prime minister presidential election president candidate
- Location: PARIS, DONGES, NICE, NANTERRE AND VERSAILLES, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, DONGES, NICE, NANTERRE AND VERSAILLES, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BLXLJB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will be hoping that two and a half years of tough talk at the top of French government will serve him well if, as expected, he announces on Monday (December 5) that he intends to run for president.
The decision by his boss Francois Hollande not to stand for re-election himself has cleared the way for a candidate from the pro-business, centrist wing of the Socialist party and Valls has made no secret of his presidential ambitions.
But first he will have to participate in - and win - the Socialist party's presidential primary and beat challengers from the left who will be backed by militants unhappy with Valls' tough stance over security and pro-business reforms.
After posts under Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin, and helping the party leadership campaign of Segolene Royal, Valls entered Hollande's government after the 2012 election as interior minister.
The 54-year-old Spanish-born Valls soon made a name for himself as a popular "top cop", and was picked by Hollande to replace floundering former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in a reshuffle in April 2014.
As the implementer of reforms including changes to the labour laws which make it easier to hire and fire - which were forced through parliament without the full backing of MPs - Valls is tarred by the same brush as Hollande in the eyes of several influential Socialist figures who have seen the lurch to the right as a betrayal of party values.
The labour reforms led to months of protests across the country and widespread strikes and blockades.
Valls was prime minister during the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and those by Islamist militants in Paris in November 13, and the handling of the crises was praised by many in politics and the wider public.
But after the Nice attacks in July 2016, which killed at least 84 people, the government faced criticism from opposition politicians that it could have done more. Valls was booed as he arrived in Nice to observe a minute's silence.
Since Hollande's surprise announcement that he would not seek another mandate, Valls has vowed to respect and defend Hollande's legacy.
Opinion polls currently show that whoever wins the left's primary is unlikely to make it through the second round of next spring's presidential election, with the right's Francois Fillon and the far right's Marine Le Pen seen as making it through to the knockout round.
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