Former prime minister Manuel Valls sets out his stall ahead of a French presidential election this year that some fear may unseat not only incumbent, Francois Hollande, but also a fragile economic recovery. Laura Frykberg reports.
The body language of Manuel Valls perhaps says it all. In just two months - France goes to the polls And the stakes couldn't be higher. With the rise of populism - led by Marine le Pen, and growing support for his Conservative rival. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CANDIDATE FOR LEFT'S NOMINATION FOR FRENCH PRESIDENCY, MANUEL VALLS, SAYING: "I reject the vast purge that Francois Fillon is preparing for us, a drastic reduction in the number of public sector workers, and so fewer public services." While Valls faces a political challenge, the wider country is in an economic one. Although there are signs it could be overcoming it. In December - manufacturing hit a 5 and a half year high. With the sharpest increase in job creation in the same period. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LCG MARKETS ANALYST, JASPER LAWLER, SAYING: "The recovery in France is modest, but it is still reaping the same global benefits of a higher global oil price and gradually rising inflation expectations." Polls predict any Socialist candidate will lose to those from the Right come March. It could be that any economic improvement made under the party right now .. Might be too little to late.