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France politics: Benoit Hamon ahead of Manual Valls in first round socialist presidential primary


France

France politics: Benoit Hamon ahead of Manual Valls in first round socialist presidential primary

Results from France’s first round socialist presidential primary show Benoit Hamon in front of the country’s former Prime Minister Manual Valls.

Hamon, a relative political unknown and ex-education minister under President Francois Hollande, was ahead with just over 36 percent of the vote.

Addressing supporters, Hamon said: ‘‘Throughout this campaign, I have met French people all over France. The conviction that I’ve drawn from these many exchanges is that we have to finish with the old recipes, the old politics, the old solutions that no longer work.’‘

Hamon will now face Valls in a run-off vote next Sunday to choose socialist’s presidential nominee after the former prime minister finished well ahead of third placed candidate Arnaud Montebourg, with around 31 percent of the vote.

‘‘A new campaign begins this evening. A very clear choice now appears before us and to you, my dear friends, between assured defeat and possible victory,’‘ Valls declared.

In all, six men and one woman took part in the presidential primary, while nearly 2 million people are said to have participated in the vote.

Whoever wins next week’s run-off, however, faces an uphill task in winning the presidency for the socialists.

Polls suggest France’s ruling party has little chance of winning the presidential ballot later this year, no matter who the candidate is.

The political Right in France recently chose former prime minister Francois Fillon as its presidential candidate, rejecting an attempt at a comeback by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister, is also high in the polls, along with the leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen.

Primary elections held on the Left and Right are a relatively new concept in France.

The voting is open to ordinary members of the public, as long as they declare that they share the party’s values and make a token payment of one or two euros.

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