French voters choose between sharply different candidates in Socialist primary

French voters choose between sharply different candidates in Socialist primary
French voters choose between sharply different candidates in Socialist primary
Author

30 January, 2017

French Socialists were yesterday due to choose their candidate for this year's presidential election, in a run-off pitting pro-business former premier Manuel Valls against hard-left lawmaker Benoit Hamon.

Fillon has not denied the figures, but he has denied the jobs were fake, saying his wife for years proof-read his speeches and prepared press reviews.

Hours ahead of the gathering in the capital he vowed in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that he would fight "to the end" against the "forces at work to silence me and to weaken my candidacy".

Mr Hamon, a former education minister, was kicked out of Mr Valls' government in 2014 for differences on economic policy.

He topped seven other left-wing candidates in the first round of the Socialist Party primaries a week ago and defeated Valls in the second round on Sunday by 58% to 41%.

One of the biggest potential winners of the primary could be former economy minister Macron.

The Socialists' choice now of Hamon, a traditional leftwinger, will only favour Macron's campaign, political campaigners say.

French voters choose between sharply different candidates in Socialist primary
French voters choose between sharply different candidates in Socialist primary

But another candidate, centrist independent Emmanuel Macron, has been attracting large crowds at his rallies by appealing to both left and right.

Sunday's result lays bare the deep fractures in the Socialist camp. He proposed a plan to introduce a universal basic income of €750 a month which would replace a number of current social allowances, including unemployment benefit.

Casting his ballot for Valls in a gymnasium two blocks from the presidential Elysée Palace, voter Jean-Pierre Abehassera said the ex-prime minister offered a stronger bulwark against militant Islam than Hamon.

While many voters may have simply voted against Hollande and his legacy, Grunberg said, they ultimately chose a candidate unlikely to appeal to the nation at large - even a nation with as proud a Socialist tradition as France.

Valls said Friday that Fillon's woes showed that the election "was not over".

"The French are rightfully asking themselves: who is the real Fillon?"

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