Benoît Hamon has won the second round of France’s left wing primary and becomes the Socialist Party’s presidential nominee.
The 49 year old Hamon is on the left-wing of the Socialist Party and has been compared to the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn. After a comfortable win in the first round of the primary, the ex Minister of Education won in the second round against ex Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Hamon’s ideas dominated the primary, particularly his proposal to introduce a universal basic income to offset dwindling work opportunities in an age of automation.
The Socialist primary has confirmed a gaping chasm within the ruling party, between a pragmatic, centre-left camp led by Valls and President Francois Hollande and a staunchly leftist faction around Hamon.
Manual Valls wished Hamon “good luck” in a concession speech. He also said, “I have always had a sense or teamwork and responsibility. Hamon is the candidate of our political camp.” In sometimes bitter exchanges in the primary, the ex-prime minister repeated Hamon would mean “certain defeat” in the general election.
Valls also took yet another opportunity to defend his record in government in his speech. He said he and President François Hollande had struggled with desperately low approval ratings.
Hamon won a first round of voting last week that whittled the candidates down from seven to two, taking 36 percent to Valls’ 31.5 percent.
Central to Hamon’s programme is the introduction of a universal basic income of around 750 euros a month, which would be paid to every single French citizen aged 18 and over, regardless of whether or not they are employed.
He has signalled that this should be progressively implemented, to be fully in place by 2022 and paid for with increased wealth taxes.
Hamon argues that it would boost growth and employment, while lowering poverty and cutting government red tape by replacing complex unemployment benefit schemes with a single pay-out to everyone.
Hamon also openly supports the legalisation of cannabis, a move that was rejected outright by Valls during the debates.
— Catherine Nicholson (@ACatInParis) January 29, 2017
— louise nordstrom (@LouiseInParis) January 29, 2017
A win for Emmanuel Macron?
One of the biggest potential winners of the primary could be former economy minister Macron.
The 39-year-old former investment banker, who quit the Socialist government last year to run for president as a centrist, has been drawing large crowds at his rallies and creeping up on Fillon and Le Pen in polls.