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PARIS (Reuters) - Veteran French centrist Francois Bayrou said on Wednesday he was offering an alliance with independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, a move that could give the former investment banker a much-needed boost to reach the runoff in May's presidential election.
"We are in an extremely risky situation, and to tackle this exceptional situation, I think we need an exceptional response," Bayrou, a pro-EU politician who won about 9 percent of first round votes when he ran in the 2012 presidential vote.
"I have decided to offer Emmanuel Macron an alliance. The danger is too big we must change things," he said, describing his decision as a "sacrifice."
Bayrou's support for Macron pushed the euro up against the dollar and French bond yields, which had risen because of fears of rising support for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, fell about 5 basis points.
Bayrou said he would hold talks with Macron in the coming hours and set several conditions for the alliance, although they are unlikely to deter Macron's camp.
The centrist had little chance of reaching the May 7 runoff between the top two contenders, given the 5-6 percent that pollsters expect him to win.
Describing French democracy as under threat, he said that the conservatives under Francois Fillon were riddled with scandals and the Socialists, who he backed in 2012, were in disarray, a situation that could pave the way for the far-right.
"What's at stake with this alliance is to restore hope," Bayrou said.
Reporting by John Irish and Michel Rose; editing by Richard Balmforth