Benoît Hamon tops poll in first round of French Socialist primary race

Benoît Hamon

Benoît Hamon, the staunchly leftwing outsider who wants to introduce a universal basic income, legalise cannabis and tax robots has topped the poll in the first round of the French Socialist primary race to choose a presidential candidate. He will face the pro-business former prime minister Manuel Valls in a final-round clash between the party’s warring leftwing and free-market factions.

Hamon, the dark horse and most leftwing of all the candidates in the race, took about 35% of the vote while Valls, the economically liberal, self-styled law and order strongman on the right of the party, took about 31%, according to partial early results.

Hamon said his score “sent a clear message of hope and renewal” and that he could “rewrite a page of the history of the left and of France”. He said it was an end to old approaches that no longer worked on the left.

Valls immediately attacked Hamon as an idealist who couldn’t win the presidential election and styled himself as the voice of the serious left in government. “There is now a very clear choice between certain defeat and possible victory, between unachievable promises and a credible left that takes responsibility,” he said.