PARIS (Reuters) - French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin - whom President Nicolas Sarkozy said would be a good future head of state - warned on Friday of the risk that far-right politician Marine Le Pen could win the next presidential election in 2027.
Darmanin gave interviews to both La Voix du Nord paper and RTL radio on Friday, as he prepared to host a political meeting on Sunday. Le Pen lost to President Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2022 election, echoing an identical outcome in the 2017 vote.
"The fact of the matter is that in five years' time, a victory for Madame Le Pen is quite probable," Darmanin told La Voix du Nord, in an interview published in Friday's paper.
"If we let a large part of the working class and middle class go over to Marine Le Pen, the professional classes will not support us in the second round. On Sunday, I will say that this aspect of society is crucial. That is what could get Marine Le Pen elected in 2027, not questions on migration," he added.
Darmanin is yet to say if he will run in the 2027 election.
But the French Constitution would bar Macron from running for a third mandate, and in the background potential candidates in the centre-right and conservative camp - including him, but also Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire - are already positioning themselves for that ballot.
(This story has been corrected to change the last election date to 2022 in paragraph 2)
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Bertrand Boucey; Editing by Ingrid Melander)