French far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen on Saturday chose defeated first-round candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan as her prime minister, a bid to attract his voters and help her to victory over centrist favorite Emmanuel Macron.
Dupont-Aignan is a nationalist whose protectionist economic policies are close to those of the National Front’s Le Pen and who, like her, wants to reduce the powers of European Union institutions, reports Reuters.
He scored 4.7 percent of votes in the first round on April 23, and announced on Friday, as widely expected, that he was backing her for the decisive May 7 second round.
The alliance could help draw in other voters from the edges of the mainstream right, but it risks alienating some of the far-left support she needs if she is to upset the odds and win France’s most important election in decades.
“We will form a government of national unity that brings together people chosen for their competence and their love of France,” Le Pen told a Paris news conference, sitting side-by-side with her choice for premier.
The first round elimination of two other main presidential candidates, the far-left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative Francois Fillon, was greeted with relief by investors and EU partners of France, a founder of the bloc, a key member of the NATO defense alliance, and the world’s fifth largest economy.
Le Pen had for months seemed sure of a second round place, even though the race was closely fought, and polls ahead of round one showed Macron with a far greater chance than Fillon of beating her next Sunday.
Melenchon, for his part, offered the prospect of a second-round choice between two candidates who would tear up international trade treaties and whose presidencies could be fatal to a European Union already weakened by Britain’s departure.
Macron and Le Pen between them accounted for only 45 percent of the first round vote, and the battle is now on for the remainder.
Polls show Macron winning next Sunday with about 59-60 percent, but the momentum has been with Le Pen, who has clawed back about five percentage points over the past week.