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Some of French Socialist rather support Macron

Some of French Socialist rather support MacronTwo members of France's Socialist government deserted their party's official contender for the presidency on Thursday and threw their support behind Emmanuel Macron, significantly bolstering the 39-year-old centrist's bid for the Elysee.

The biggest catch for Macron was the defection of Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a Socialist Party grandee who has been both a close ally and friend of outgoing President Francois Hollande for nearly 40 years.

The official Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, whose low poll rating suggests he will be eliminated in the first round of voting in the presidential election on April 23, bitterly accused Le Drian of short-changing his own voters.

"In democracies, it is not acceptable that politicians only honour the will of those who elected them when it suits," Hamon said in a statement.

The second defection was that of Thierry Braillard, a junior sports minister.

Earlier this week, biodiversity minister Barbara Pompili, another junior member of the Socialist leadership which has been in power since 2012, also switched allegiance to Macron rather than back Hamon. The latter has been fourth-placed in the polls for weeks and fell to fifth spot in the Harris poll.

Hollande, the first president not to seek re-election since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1962, had appealed to ministers to refrain at least until the end of this week from taking pre-election positions.

Le Drian announced his move to Ouest-France, a regional newspaper. The support of a respected voice in security matters and foreign affairs is particularly welcome news for the youthful former economy minister, who has been criticised by opponents for lacking experience in these areas.

Braillard went public with an announcement on Twitter and an RTL radio interview in which he said: "Emmanuel Macron's program is the one that best fits the challenges facing France."

Macron also won support from the other side of the political divide. Philippe Douste-Blazy, a right-wing former minister for health and foreign affairs, told Marianne magazine he would back him. Dominique Perben, a right-winger who was minister for justice and transport in the past, did likewise on Wednesday.
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