The first round of the primaries of the primary left, organised by the Socialist Party and its allies to designate a presidential candidate took place this Sunday. Seven candidates competed against each other: the former prime minister Manuel Valls, the former ministers of education Benoît Hamon and Vincent Peillon, the former minister of economic affairs Arnaud Montebourg, the vice-president of the National Assembly François de Rugy (Ecological Party), Jean-Luc Bennahmias (Democratic Front) and Sylvia Pinel, former minister of housing and president of the Radical Left Party.
The first results were announced in the early evening by the lawyer Thomas Clay, who estimated that the incidents reported in the polling stations (some people claimed to have voted twice) were of minor importance and have not evolved after. According to the scores of the Socialist Party, Benoît Hamon came in first (36.2%), followed by Manuel Valls (31.2%). Arnaud Montebourg stays in his role of “third man in the primaries” and gets 17.6% of the votes. Vincent Peillon came in fourth (6.8%), followed by François de Rugy (3.8%), Sylvia Pinel (2%) and Jean-Luc Bennahmias (1%). Around 0.75% of ballots were blank and 0.67% were invalid. The final results, from 7,530 polling stations, should be available on Monday.
Manuel Valls attacking, Benoît Hamon exhilarated
The two candidates qualified for the second round delivered speeches in very different styles. Benoît Hamon spoke first, from the houseboat where he celebrated with his supporters. He welcomed a “clear message of hope and revival”. “We must now amplify the mobilization that went on during this first round, give it more momentum”, he said, smiling, before thanking Arnaud Montebourg “very sincerely” for his support.
“Tonight is the first step. I take this faith with great responsibility, seriousness, but also much enthusiasm” he declared. “I am seeing the first bricks that we will use to rebuild the left wing. The left voters, I am convinced, have voted out of belief and not resignation” he thinks. Benoît Hamon says he is convinced “that we have to move on from the old recipes, old school politics, those old solutions that don’t work anymore”.
For his part, Manuel Valls expressed himself from the House of Latin America (Paris, 7th arrondissement), not smiling and aggressive. He clearly attacked the program – especially the universal revenue – of his socialist comrade, which he is pleased to face. Next Sunday, “The choice between certain defeat and possible victory will be made, the choice of impossible promises and a responsible left wing”, he said. “This primary election was open and nothing is certain. For the second round, nothing is written yet”, he insisted.
Montebourg rallies to Benoît Hamon, Pinel prefers Valls
As opposed to 2011, Arnaud Montebourg has not kept the suspense up: on Sunday, he will vote for Hamon. Addressing this, smiling, a few minutes after the announcement, the former deputy of Saône-et-Loire took the opportunity to severely attack Manuel Valls, without naming him: “The voters have seriously condemned the quinquennium, he said. They wanted the left to find the way of the left wing again, that the river rejoins its bed”.
“With Benoît Hamon, we fought the liberal social policies now disavowed by the primaries. We left the government together, he went on. Our duty is now the rally of the left wing. Without the rally, there is no solution to the impossible choice between the brutal liberal candidate and the Le Pen family. […] Next Sunday, I will vote for Benoît Hamon, and I invite you to do the same. It is a necessity to rally for France and the left. I believe in the possibility of inventing the world of tomorrow”.
The senator of Paris Marie-Noelle Lienemann, who decided to withdraw from the primaries in December, has endorsed Hamon as well.
The president of the Radical Left Party, Sylvia Pinel, asked her 2% of voters to vote for Manuel Valls.
Other rallies to come this week
Before the results were announced, the director of Francois de Rugy’s campaign, the deputy Véronique Mqssoneau, announced on RTL that the ecologist will meet the two candidates that are qualified for the second round. A way to admit the defeat without explicitly rallying.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias let his voters know that he will announce on Wednesday who he will vote for, Benoît Hamon or Manuel Valls. Considering what he has said during the first three months of debate, it is hard to imagine it being the first.
Participation that “proves that the primaries have come into everyday life”
The polling stations closed at 7 pm. Between 1.7 and 1.9 million people took part in the vote, according to figures from the Socialist Party. A “satisfying first round” according to Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, the leader of the Socialist Party. Only Vincent Peillon judged the participation as “average” and wishes for “great mobilization”, asking the voters to “amplify their votes”. He has not indicated any preference for the second round.