• Trump’s rhetoric in line with European extremists: Hollande
  • President backs Economy Minister Macron’s political movement

French President Francois Hollande backed Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential race and said that Donald Trump’s rhetoric puts him on the same level as Europe’s extreme right.

“The best thing the Democrats can do is to get Hillary Clinton elected,” Hollande said in an interview with Les Echos newspaper. The election of Donald Trump “would complicate relations between Europe and the U.S.”

The comments break with standard diplomatic practice of avoiding direct engagement in electoral contests of major allies on the grounds that Hollande, as president, could find himself needing to work with Trump as president from January.

Yet with the presumptive Republican candidate lagging in the polls and Europeans uncomfortable with his bombast, Trump makes an easy target for Hollande who is in the early stages of his own fight for re-election less than a year from now. The Socialist French president, who has not declared whether he will seek a second term, lags both mainstream right-wing candidates and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in voting intention polls for the first round.

Trump’s “slogans are barely different from the extreme right in Europe and in France,” Hollande said, citing “fear of waves of immigrants, the stigmatization of Islam, the undermining of representative democracy and the denunciation of elites.”

In a two-page-spread interview, Hollande spoke of topics ranging from his desire to cut taxes and win back banking business from London to squabbles with lawmakers in his own Socialist Party. He also said that Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron’s creation of his own political movement is perfectly appropriate rather than a rival presidential bid.

“What he is doing is to convince the French of the solid foundation of the policies we have been putting in place since 2012 and to reflect on what we can propose in 2017,” Hollande said when asked about the 38-year-old minister. “Emmanuel Macron is putting forward his own political beliefs as part of his job.”

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