French primaries shock - Ex PM Valls loses to outsider Hamon


Robert Harneis – TDO – The French presidential elections have delivered another shock result. The favourite, former Prime Minster Manuel Valls (31%) was beaten into second place by his ex-minister of Education Benoît Hamon (36%) in the Socialist party primaries. Until a few weeks ago, Hamon was in third place according to the polls with Valls in the lead with twice his score.

Open primaries are notoriously difficult to read for pollsters but the result does follow the opinions expressed amongst left wing sympathizers after the final debate. This showed Hamon as the most convincing with 34%, followed by Valls with 24% and Montebourg at 23%. The ordinary polls on intention to vote showed Valls at 44% followed by Montebourg at 32% with Hamon trailing in third place but with a growing share of the vote. The scenario closely resembles the result of the right primary where François Fillon came through at the last minute to win unexpectedly.

Hamon is the further to the left than Montebourg whereas Valls is barely on the left at all. For this the Socialist voters have punished him. As François Hollande’s Prime Minister until a few weeks ago, he has found it difficult to disassociate himself from what many on the left regard as Hollande’s betrayal of his party. Hamon now looks like the favourite to win the final round, as his close collaborator Montebourg has called for his supporters to switch to him. Their combined vote is 53%.

As ministers, the two men worked together to oppose Hollande’s reneging on his pre-election promises. For this they were dismissed from the government in August 2014. Clearly having expressed his opposition to Hollande’s neo-liberal reforms and austerity policies and lost his position in the government as a result, has put him in a strong moral position.

Hamon is in favour of a universal income, repeal of the Hollande/Valls labour reform law, the right of asylum seekers to work after three months, legalization of cannabis and a tax on robots

The final round is on 29 January.

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