Benoît Hamon, a candidate still in the running

Just after arriving in Station Metz, Friday morning, Benoît Hamon was quickly recognized by a passersby: “Mr. Hamon, I voted for you” , he shouted. “Thanks, that’s cool” , replied the candidate. “Yes, but keep your promises, eh?” 

The MP for Yvelines won – significantly – in the primary of the left against Manuel Valls, thanks in part to his proposal to create a “universal income of existence.” For the Socialists critics, he won in “selling dreams”. Now, as candidate for president, he will have to move from dream to reality.

For his first visit in the country, before his official inauguration on Sunday in Paris , Benoît Hamon chose to survey the east of France. Moselle, Forbach and Folschviller, the territories hit by both the economic crisis, unemployment and the continuing surge in the polls of the National Front . A France that suffers and seeks, where the former Minister of Education, often accused of being the candidate of the “bobos”, has come to promote his ideas about employment, investment, and a new model of development.

“A high level of protection for the French”

But as soon as he arrived in the Moselle, his visit was struck by an attempted knife attack in Paris against soldiers patrolling in front of the Louvre. Gone are the dreams, the hard return to the reality of the terrorist threat. One area which the image ultra sovereign political Benoît Hamon is not associated. Presidential campaign obliges, here he must react live while visiting a calibration company making advanced electronic devices, and has little information.

“First, I would like to salute the courage of the soldiers,” says Benoît Hamon. Prudent, he repeated his speech in the primary on counterterrorism: “This illustrates the need for effective intelligence to protect the French”  ; “We must be relentless in the fight against those who threaten France”

Benoît Hamon also explained during the campaign that the state of emergency could not be prolonged indefinitely. Under the leaden sky of Moselle, the candidate continues. “I will maintain a high level of protection of French as long as necessary” , he says without without giving detail of how long the “state of emergency” would be.

As an aside, he says he will not make “the electoral outbidding in a field where zero risk does not exist, which can ensure the security of French at the most, but where we can not ensure that there will not be another attack “ . He intends to bring “the fiscal effort of the means of security and defense to 3% of GDP” over the next five years.

Safe Ground

But no question of adding in all safe. “We already have a complete legal arsenal, it does not need one more law, he added . It’s a matter of organization, which calls for better cooperation between the French and European intelligence services. But the French are living every day with the threat, when they go to the theater, cinema , in supermarkets “ .

Benoît Hamon, is much more comfortable on the field when talking about social or cultural issues. Like when he is interviewed by the, in the town hall of Forbach. The same person who had interviewed Emmanuel Macron when he had come to the Moselle in November. At the microphone, the chosen of Trappes spoke about universal income, the defense of ‘social and academic diversity “ , fighting against discrimination, refusal to ” bet on any prison “ to combat insecurity … he is on safe ground. And at the cultural “TCRM Blida”, in Metz, where creators, videographers, and artists innovate. “The desirable future that I want to wear is embodied here in the start-up creation, cultivation where it abounds” , he explains, adding, like a mantra, “I think everything will be better tomorrow “ .

At his side throughout the day, the deputies of Moselle Aurélie Filippetti and Paola Zanetti, former ringleaders in the National Assembly. The Mayor of Forbach and deputy of the department, Laurent Kalinowski, who had opposed the labor law , welcomed him enthusiastically: “You know, Benoit, Francois Hollande came to Forbach two days before being elected in 2012. It is a good witness. “ Not sure the candidate liked comparison, he seeks to mark a distance with the head of state.

See also:   After his meeting with François Hollande, Benoît Hamon intends to “look ahead”

In the procession, several socialist representatives do not hide that his victory at the primary leaves them a bitter taste. Dominique Gros, mayor of Metz, supported Manuel Valls. “Because he had the national and local experience in Evry» says the one. The qualification of the Yvelines MP was “surprised” . “Hamon managed to pass himself off as someone new when he was an apparatchik for thirty years. But he won, so he’s my candidate. I’m going to campaign, we’ll see … “ , admits the aedile.

No “dab” in the end

Later, the Secretary of State for Veterans, Jean-Marc Todeschini, former Senator of Moselle and close to François Hollande, the PS promises “a gathering of culture” , but Benoît Hamon called to “know how the right moves “ . Criticism certainly, but not disinterested. The same is competing to appear behind the new champion before photographers and television cameras. As soon as elected, the surprise candidate flew into the polls. So you never know, better not insult the future …

Before leaving the town of Forbach, animators show Benoît Hamon a picture of French footballer Paul Pogba, doing his famous “dab” and invite him to the copy . “It’s a gesture of victory! “ Him they said. “I have to do this to win? “ , Asks the candidate, in a burst of laughter . But he keeps his arms crossed. No “dab” in the end for Hamon. Now he has to be president.

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