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France

President-elect Macron deepens French Socialists' crisis

media Former prime minister Manuel Valls (R) with President-elect Emmanuel Macron while they were still in government Reuters/Thibault Camus/Pool/File Photo

France's president-elect Emmanuel Macron has plunged the already-demoralised Socailist Party (PS) deeper into crisis with the list of 428 parliamentary candidates of his newly formed party, The Republic on the Move (LREM). Twenty Socialist MPs have been endorsed but 150 places have been left vacant in the hope of attracting defectors from the mainstream parties.

A number of Socialist MPs and ministers backed Macron's presidential bid, in some cases even before their own candidate, Benoît Hamon, had been squeezed out in the first round.

Some 20 of them, including Macron's spokesperson Richard Ferrand, have already been endorsed and no LREM candidate has been named for the constituencies of several ministers, including Marisol Touraine (health), Jean-Marie Le Guen (development) and government spokesperson Stéphane Le Foll.

After a week of hesitation, LREM has decided not to stand a candidate against former prime minister Manuel Valls, who is in the process of being expelled from the Socialist Party for declaring that he wished to stand for the president-elect's party.

LREM's ban on candidates standing for a third term of office prevent it endorsing Valls but it is not opposing him because "we don't want to give the impression of humiliating him", according to Ferrand.

Socialists struggle to survive

Widespread disillusionment with the government's record, which led to seven million voters backing hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and Hamon's humiliating 6.35 percent, have cast doubt over whether the Socialist Party can survive.

In an apparent change of line from declarations before the presidential election, Macron last week said that nobody would have to "tear up their membership card" of another party to be endorsed by LREM.

But neither the Socialists nor the mainstream right Republicans see the question that way.

"People who stand under the On the Move label will face a [Socialist] candidate," Hamon ally Pascal Cherki said after a national executive meeting on Tuesday.

Republicans threaten expulsions

Macron will have to form an interim government ahead of the parliamentary election and is reported to be seeking ministers from the Republicans.

He may also need to form a coalition after the election if LREM does not win a majority of seats.

Former agriculture and European affairs minister Bruno Le Maire, who is considering standing as an LREM candidate, was warned that he would be expelled from the Republicans, by elections campaign organiser François Baroin this week.

Both the Republicans and their allies the UDI have told their members that they will stand candidates against them if they defect.

Mélenchon causes upsets in Marseille

Mélenchon added to the Socialists' woes this week by declaring that he would stand against a sitting MP in Marseille.

"I don't want to weaken the PS, I want to replace it," he said at a press conference.

His opponent, Patrick Menucci, accused him of being an outsider who had "refused to declare support for the democrats' candidate, M Macron" against the National Front in the presidential deciding round.

The hard-left candidate has his own problems, having failed to reach an electoral agreement with the Communist Party, which, after some internal debate, backed him in his bid for the presidency.

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