Outsider Benoît Hamon surges to victory in first French socialist presidential primary 


Leftwinger Benoît Hamon wins first party presidential primary 

THE LEFT of France’s challenged Socialist party has come out on top in the first stage of its presidential nominations primary. 

Leftwinger Benoît Hamon, who supports policies including a universal basic income, reducing the working week and more progressive taxation, defeated the previous favourite Manuel Valls by 36 per cent to 31 per cent. 

Valls, a former prime minister for the party associated with it’s more establishment, liberal wing, will face off with Hamon again in a final vote to represent the party in this April’s national election. 

Hamon said his win was a sign the party’s socialist grassroots “have not given up”

Hamon resigned from the socialist party cabinet in 2014, in protest at its pro-market record. 

Current socialist president François Hollande declined to stand again for the office, following persistent low polling. 

While Hamon said his win was a sign the party’s socialist grassroots “have not given up”, Valls warned the socialists face “certain defeat” if he is not selected as the candidate. 

However, the socialists are currently trailing in the election race. 

Conservative nominee François Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen have been leading the campaign, turning it into a face-off between different forms of hard right politics. 

Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the French radical left are also currently expected to outperform the socialists. 

The French election is one of several key European elections – alongside votes in the Netherlands and Germany – where populist right-wing groups are campaigning against migration and the European project.

The rise of figures like Hamon and Mélenchon alongside figures like Le Pen and Fillon represents another example of the stark polarisation in European politics.

Picture courtesy of Parti Socialiste

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