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Fighting for the soul of Socialism in France


Fighting for the soul of Socialism in France

  • Socialist Party chooses its presidential candidate
  • Hard-left Benoit Hamon is favourite
  • Analysts say Socialists have little chance of success in the presidential election
  • However, the result could help other candidates

Socialists in France are choosing their candidate for this year’s presidential election.

Polls opened at 0700 local time.

The run-off vote pits pro-business ex-premier Manuel Valls against hard-left lawmaker, Benoit Hamon.

Is there a favourite?


Hamon is tipped to beat Valls in the head-to-head vote.

He is often compared to the leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

However, analysts say, after five years of unpoular Socialist government, he has little chance of winning the actual presidential vote.

What do the polls say?

The research suggests neither candidate would get enough support to reach the presidential election run-off in May.

The Socialists are currently predicted to come in fifth in the first round behind centrist Emmanuel Macron and left-winger Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Who is ahead in the presidential polls, then?

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

Fillon 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 the winner of Sunday’s vote could help decide the fortune of other candidates, even if the Socialists have little chance of succeeding President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace.


A victory by Hamon could boost Macron’s chances by pushing Valls’ centre-left supporters into the 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.

This 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, some are predicting.

The party 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.