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What happened today in France’s presidential election

Less than a month to the first round of the French presidential election, current frontrunner Emmanuel Macron received a key endorsement and outgoing President Francois Hollande looked forward to his retirement.

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Wednesday:

– Socialist heavyweight backs Macron -Former prime minister Manuel Valls endorsed the centrist Macron, becoming the most high-profile Socialist to back the 39-year-old ex-banker and former Socialist minister over the party’s own nominee.

Valls’ support was seen as a mixed blessing for Macron, giving him the backing of a leading politician but weakening his claim to represent a break with the past.

Macron quit the Socialist government last year to form his own movement, En Marche (On the Move), saying he wanted to shake up the political class.

– Jilted party ‘sad’, but not out for blood -Socialist Party chief Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said he was “sad” he couldn’t stop Valls endorsing Macron, but warned against an internal purge, saying it could hurt Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon.

A “Socialist Saint-Barthelemy” would be a bad idea, he said, referring to a 16th-century massacre that bloodied the streets of Paris at the height of the wars of religion.

No one should be “stigmatised, excluded, cut”, he said in a letter to Socialist party members.

However, Hamon himself said Socialist defectors had “stabbed him in the back” and that those attracted to this “morbid game” should be punished.

– L’apres-Hollande, in his own words -“I’m not afraid of the void,” outgoing President Francois Hollande said while wrapping up an Asian tour in Malaysia.

The 62-year-old Socialist leader, who decided in December not to stand for re-election, said he would read and travel a lot and “be fully myself” once freed of his presidential obligations.


© Agence France-Presse