Former President Barack Obama weighed in Thursday in a big way on the upcoming French presidential election, endorsing Emmanuel Macron over right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen in a video statement.

The ex-U.S. president already had spoken by phone with the center-left Macron late last month, in an early indication of his support. But Obama openly endorsed ahead of Sunday’s closely watched runoff.

“I’m not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don’t have to run for office again, but the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about,” Obama said, in a web video tweeted Thursday by Macron.


“Merci @BarackObama,” Macron wrote.

Obama, in the video, said Macron has “stood up for liberal values” and praised his vision for the role France plays in Europe and around the world.

Le Pen has been a fierce critic of the European Union, and wants to curb immigration. In a debate Wednesday, she reportedly blasted Macron as beholden to big business and called herself “the candidate of the people.” She also cast her rival as soft on Islamic extremism.

Obama said Macron “appeals to people’s hopes and not their fears … I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward.”