New French Prime Minister Manuel Valls: popular and tough on crime

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Manuel Valls, the man chosen to be France’s new prime minister, has been compared to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair both for his style and for being to the right of the Socialist party.

The 51 year old is disliked by those to the left but he does well in opinion polls.

Valls proved popular as interior minister, setting himself up as tough on crime and anti -Roma. He supported the controversial expulsion of the Roma from French cities, drawing comparisons to former right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Born in Barcelona, he was mayor of Evry, a town in the Paris suburbs.

He has presidential ambitions but was beaten as the Socialist candidate by Hollande in 2011.

He has spoken out against anti-semitism and described himself as “linked eternally to Israel.”

One supporter said: “He seems to be more convincing, he believes in what he says and I think that he believes in a France with more justice which we need today, maybe he represents the real values, in any case there is hope.”

He and his wife Anne Gravoin make a glamorous couple; she is a professional violinist.

Described by le Figaro newspaper as “like a bullfighter” the hope is Valls can now turn around the fortunes of the struggling Socialist party.

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