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FILE PHOTO - French Government Spokesman Christophe Castaner leaves after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer


PARIS (Reuters) - French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said on Wednesday that Emmanuel Macron was backing him to lead the year-old Republic on the Move (LREM) party that brought the president to victory earlier this year.

If Castaner wins a Nov. 18 election for the party's leadership, it could trigger a minor government reshuffle as he is a cabinet member in charge of relations with parliament.

LREM won a large majority in parliamentary elections in June, consolidating Macron's presidential win in May. Like Macron, most LREM lawmakers had never previously held elected office.

"If he chose me and supported my candidacy in the collective talks we're having, it's because I've got the support of the party's rank and file," Castaner said on RTL radio.

Previously a Socialist lawmaker from southwestern France, Castaner joined Macron's campaign early as his spokesman. Since Macron's victory, Castaner has become a familiar face on national television defending the president's reform agenda.

Thanks to Castaner's Socialist roots, Macron's backing for him could help counter recent criticism of Macron as a president of the rich for partially scrapping the wealth tax, a symbol of France's income redistribution system cherished on the Left.

Castaner said that for the moment no one else had put forward their candidacy to lead the party.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Yann Le Guernigou; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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