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Ex-French PM Valls launches bid to become mayor of Barcelona

BARCELONA, Spain — Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has confirmed he will be running in Barcelona’s mayoral election next year in order to “rescue” the Catalan capital from “deterioration.”

The involvement of the French politician, who was born 56 years ago in Barcelona, raises the stakes for the May 2019 election as a mayoral battleground between those who want the wealthy northeastern Catalan region to either break away or remain part of Spain.

Valls, who last year failed on his bid to become the presidential candidate in France for his Socialist Party, has been a strong voice against Catalan secession.

But speaking in both Catalan and Spanish to a packed auditorium Tuesday in Barcelona, Valls chose instead to emphasize that he wants to fight insecurity and inequality while boosting the economy.