Manuel Valls, France’s interior minister and top law enforcement official, has perhaps the toughest job in the country, and he’s the most popular politician in France.
With a bold, honest take on the role of Islam in French society and a July 4 confrontation with American officials, the socialist former mayor of a Parisian suburb has made a quick name for himself.
The Economist has described his political views as reminiscent of Tony Blair, and much in the manner that Blair rescued the left in Britain from political obscurity, it seems Valls could be poised to do the same.
“He has not hesitated to dismantle illegal Roma camps, expel an imam for preaching anti-Semitism, tighten counter-terrorism laws to clamp down on jihadis or put more police on the streets,” the Economist writes.
The voice of Islamic immigrants in secular French society has plagued politicians for decades, and Valls takes a bold hard line on the issue.
“Part of my effort is to say clearly that we need a French Islam, an Islam that accepts the separation of state and religion, the equality of men and women, democracy as our form of government,” he told Jim Hoagland at the Washington Post.
And earlier this month, at a July 4 party at the American embassy where he was a guest of honour, Valls decried reports of U.S. espionage against the European Union.
“In the name of our friendship, we owe each other honesty,” he said. “We must say things clearly, directly, frankly.”
It’s precisely that amount of candor that the French are unaccustomed to hearing from their socialist party. And experts are saying it could propel Valls to the presidency and save the French left.
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