- Title: Valls passes premiership to Cazeneuve with eyes on French presidency
- Date: 6th December 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) MINISTRY STAFF LISTENING
- Embargoed: 21st December 2016 17:08
- Keywords: Manuel Valls Bernard Cazeneuve Francois Hollande prime minister Socialist France
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA0075BQYZWN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: France's outgoing Prime Minister Manuel Valls handed power over to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during a short ceremony on Tuesday (December 6), allowing him to focus on his bid to run for president after French President Francois Hollande decided against seeking a second term.
Valls welcomed the new lodger at the Matignon prime minister's residence on Paris' left bank during a short ceremony watched by ministry staff, before heading inside for a meeting.
In their respective speeches, both Valls and Cazeneuve spoke of the Islamist militant attacks that have killed over 230 people across France since January 2015.
"Of course there was a lot of gravity and this gravity has never left me, we went through it together, 32 months with difficult and demanding moments. There were the attacks, the threat is real, but you were interior minister then and on the frontline to tackle this terrorist threat," Valls said.
"I leave with a kind of gravity but also in good spirits. You are a friend, you are a brother, it's rare in politics to be able to count on, to rest on men of your quality," he added.
Cazeneuve will play caretaker ahead of 2017's presidential vote, with far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen's anti-immigrant, anti-European Union party hoping to repeat anti-establishment upsets seen earlier this year in Britain, the United States and most recently in Italy.
"A few months remain and you are very well placed to know that in politics each day has its purpose, each day counts. We will therefore use all these days and months we have ahead of us to give strength to the Republic, give strength to France to allow it to face the challenges before it," Cazeneuve said.
Cazeneuve, 53, a former Europe and budget minister, is known as 'The Cardinal' because of his distant, dead-pan manner.
Polls so far suggest that the Left faces humiliation in next year's presidential election after five years in power. The polls suggest a vote boiling down to a duel between conservative candidate Francois Fillon and Le Pen, with Fillon winning.
Valls first needs to win a Socialist primary in January against tough competition from more traditional leftists.
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