The Strategist

Benoît Hamon turns France left

01/30/2017 - 13:50

France has had the second round of party primaries. Now, there are two candidates left out from seven - former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and former Minister of Education and Science Benoît Hamon, who won with a convincing advantage of preliminary 58.65% in his favor.

7,5 thousand polling stations had been opened since nine in the morning across France. From 1.9 million to 2.1 million people casted their votes into the urns; of them 69% supported the Left Wingers, 11% - Right and centrist, 5% were for "National Front" and 15% found it difficult to determine their sympathy. Benoît Hamon gained the upper hand in the second round, and he will be the Socialists candidate in the spring presidential elections in France.

Manuel Valls has had a hard time after the first round. Benoît Hamon then seized 36.03% of votes. Valls has collected 31.48%, and former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg came the third with 17.52%. Falling out of the race, he had urged his followers to support the favorite and thereby deprive Manuel Valls of a chance to win. On the day before the vote, the former prime minister said he would not call to support his opponent, but simply "go away into the shadows." Apparently, this is what he will be doing right now.

54-year-old former Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented the Right, moderate wing of the Socialists. 49-year-old Benoit Amon relies on the Left wing. The choice made by the voters is clear. Manuel Valls was too right to left. His potential supporters are evidently prone to sympathize his rival Emmanuel Macron, who did not wish to go to the socialist primaries. His own political movement En Marche!, or Forward!, is scoring points, and they openly rejoice Benoît Hamon’s success.

The current winner has been criticized for being unrealistic. For example, his program promises a basic income from € 535 to € 750 per month for any Frenchman; encouragement of immigration by granting the refugees with mass access to jobs; reducing number of prison places and alleviation of criminal responsibility; legalization of marijuana and granting foreigners with a right to vote in municipal elections. Almost any candidate would look like de Gaulle against the background of such proposals.

However, Benoît Hamon’s choice is not his own preference, but also crystallization of leftist voters’ sentiment. In a sense, the candidate has been supported by those who like neither the Right Wing, nor centrists, much less the Far Right. According to observers, only slightly more than 40% of voters relied the fact that they had to choose the best president for France. Other were voting for the best exponent of party ideas, the person who promises alimentation at public expense and legal drugs. This marginalization can further weaken the party, which is already going through hard days.

Many believe that Benoît Hamon is a political suicide for the Socialists Benoit Amon, but he himself is promising victory to his supporters. Those Socialists, who do not belong to his camp, offer to think about the party’s existence after the presidential election, and foretell electoral defeat.