France’s Valls Stumbles in First Round of PrimariesJanuary 25, 2017 in France
Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on Monday 23 January for a big turnout in the second round of the Socialist primaries after a first round vote on 22 January made left-wing rival Benoit Hamon frontrunner to represent the party in this year’s presidential election.
Late on Sunday, Valls said on RTL Radio “ to all those voters who believe in the Left, do not despair, mobilise.” Late on Sunday, he stated that the choice between Hamon and himself was one of “certain defeat and possible victory” in the presidential election.
Hamon, 48, is a traditional left-winger who was dismissed from the government by President Francois Hollande in 2014 for criticising his economic policies. According to partial results, Hamon won about 36 percent of the vote to Vall’s 31. The former education minister also secured the backing of Arnaud Montebourg, another left-winger, who came in third with 18 percent and was therefore eliminated along with four other candidates. The outcome of next Sunday’s head-to-head vote however remains uncertain.
Opinion polls show that no Socialist candidate is likely to win the presidency, indicating that conservative Francois Fillon is the favourite to win, with Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front (FN) coming in second place. Polls however also show that a victory for Hamon in next Sunday’s (29 January) Socialist primaries second round runoff against Valls could expose the centre ground to which Valls hopes to appeal, and thereby boosting the presidential prospects of independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.