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Benoit Hamon wins the fight for the soul of French Socialism


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Benoit Hamon wins the fight for the soul of French Socialism



  • Socialists choose firebrand Hamon
  • Turnout up on the first round
  • Fillon, Le Pen ahead in presidential polls
  • Hamon’s nomination could help Macron – analysts



France’s Socialist Party has chosen leftist firebrand Benoit Hamon as its candidate for the country’s upcoming presidential election.

The primary run-off pitted Hamon against the pro-business, ex prime minister Manuel Valls.

Hamon, a former education minister, was the favourite to win.

Among other things, he wants to establish a universal income of 600 euros a month for all adults.

Polls suggest that, after an unpopular five-year term in office under current President Francois Hollande, the Socialists do not have much chance of winning the presidential election in the spring.

The party is trailing behind conservative Francois Fillon, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron and the far-left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon.









What was the turnout like?



At 1.1 million, organsers say turnout for Sunday’s vote was up 22.8% on the first round a week ago.

Organiser Christophe Borgel says at least 1.3 million people had voted by 1700 CET in 75% of polling stations which had reported turnout figures.

That is compared with at least one million voters a the same time last week, confirming indications of stronger turnout from earlier in the day.

Borgel said like-for-like figures showed an increase of 22.8% in turnout.

Polling opened at 0900 CET in the runoff.



Who is currently ahead in the presidential polls?



The two frontrunners are conservative Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Fillon, however, is currently embroiled in a scandal over his wife being employed as his parliamentary assistant.

An official inquiry has been opened into the claims.

He was due to be holding a rally on Sunday on the outskirts of Paris for his supporters.

Polls had shown Fillon beating Le Pen in a presidential run-off vote on May the 7th, with a comfortable two-thirds of the vote.

Ratings have since suggested his popularity has dipped slightly, although there have been no polls on voting intentions since the scandal broke.





Political back-scratching



Analysts say Hamon’s victory could help decide the fortune of other candidates, even if the Socialists have little chance of succeeding President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace.



How?



Hamon’s victory could boost Emmanuel Macron’s chances by pushing Valls’ centre-left supporters into the centrist former investment banker’s arms.

Hamon, a former education minister, was kicked out of Valls’ government in 2014 for differences over economic policy.

Party members have told journalists, on condition of anonymity, that a win by Hamon would accelerate an influx of moderate Socialist lawmakers towards Macron.

Some are predicting the refusal of the most pro-business wing of the party to rally behind a more radical leftist could hasten the break-up of the Socialist Party.

It has been one of the main political forces in France for decades.

“We now know these two different Lefts cannot govern together. It will be harder than ever to cohabit. This is why it’s true, we can say they have become irreconcilable,” researcher Gerard Grunberg from Sciences-Po University in Paris told France Info radio.



Who is Emmanuel Macron?



He was Valls’ economy minister until he quit last year to launch his own party.

He has launched his own political movement, “En Marche.”

He has therefore spurned the Socialist primaries that Valls and Hamon are contesting.



What do the polls say about Macron?



The latest ones show him breathing down the necks of Fillon and Le Pen.





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