Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned the French left it
could "disappear" and populist leader Marine Le Pen get through
to a presidential election run-off, calling on his Socialist
party to back his government's business-friendly reform plans.
France's Socialists are reeling from humiliating losses in
local and European elections this year, with the latter
seeing the hard-right National Front top a national vote for
the first time.
President Francois Hollande has promised to reverse a rise in
unemployment to record highs, helped by tax cuts for
companies and lower public spending, but this policy shift is
being challenged by the left wing of his Socialist party.
"I called for a sense of responsibility. The left could
disappear and France could fall apart such has been the
succession of crises - economic crisis, crisis of identity,
cultural crisis," Valls said.
"In the face of this, we have to hold strong and over time,"
he told news channel iTele after a closed-door party meeting.
During the meeting, he also said the left had never been as
weak since the creation of the fifth republic in 1958 and
warned the National Front's Le Pen could make the run-off in
the next presidential vote in 2017, French media reported.
Valls is trying to rally dissident Socialists ahead of
crucial votes in parliament on promised tax cuts for
One of the leaders of the left wing of the party, meanwhile,
said that Hollande should contest a primary in order to be
the Socialist candidate for the next election.
"Yes, we will need a primary in 2016," Emmanuel Maurel said
in an interview with daily newspaper Le Monde. "Support for a
candidate, even if it was Francois Hollande, is not
Hollande won a Socialist primary ahead of this election in
2012 but no sitting French president has ever gone through a
primary in order to seek re-election.
The deeply unpopular Hollande is also facing a strike by
railway workers, with the hardline CGT union deciding to
extend the protest over a planned rail reform into a fifth
day on Sunday.