THE LEFTIST BENOIT HAMON WINS THE SOCIALIST PRIMARY!

An analysis of our partner GFC Net: Shan

Again, the French have expressed their wish to renew their political elite. After the François Fillon’s unexpected victory at the Centre-right primary, Benoît Hamon has been designated to run for the presidential election on behalf of the socialist party, finishing ahead of his second round opponent, the former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, with 58.87%.

Benoît Hamon, 49, has started his political commitment in 1986 on the occasion of the strong movement against a reform of the French universities. He first joined in 1987 the Michel Rocard’s youth clubs (driven at that time by Manuel Valls). In 1993, he was appointed first president of the socialist youth organisation (MJS). Then, he advised Lionel Jospin during the 1995’s presidential election and joined the Martine Aubry’s cabinet in 1997 at the Ministry of Labour, to work on youth, employment issues and political affairs. Between 2001 and 2008, he was member of the City council of Brétigny-sur-Orge (located in Greater Paris) and member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2009. In 2008, he was appointed spokesman of the Socialist Party by Martine Aubry, first secretary of the PS at that time. In 2010, he was elected Member of the Ile-de-France Regional Council. In 2012, in the wake of Hollande’s victory to the presidential election, he joined the government of Jean-Marc Ayrault, as a secretary of state in charge of the social and solidarity economy and is also elected MP in June. In 2013, he took part in a complot with Arnaud Montebourg (Minister of industry) and Manuel Valls (Minister of Home affairs) to push Jean-Marc Ayrault out of the government. In 2014, Manuel Valls was designated Prime Minister, and Hamon was appointed Minister of education. Quickly, with Arnaud Montebourg, he expressed his objections against the social-liberal vision of Manuel Valls and criticised François Hollande in the media. Both were dismissed of the government on 30th September 2014. Mr. Hamon remains active as a MP and joins the “frondeurs”, a group of socialist MPs opposed to the pro-business policy conducted by Hollande and Valls.

On 16 August 2016, he announced his intention to run for the socialist nomination. During the campaign, he supported the 32-hour working week, advocated a tax on industrial robots to fund a universal basic income (which could be distributed to everyone) and claimed the legalization of marijuana.

Hamon won the first round of the socialist primary last Sunday with 36% of polls, ahead of Manuel Valls with 31%. Arnaud Montebourg, the third man of this primary with 17.5%, urged his supporters to back Mr. Hamon for the second round, seriously crippling Mr. Valls’ chances to win the socialist nomination.

Clearly, through the choice of Mr. Hamon, the socialist militants and supporters expressed their disappointment regarding the Hollande’s term and decided to support a leftist candidate. It is also a “slap” for Manuel Valls, who has lost the political credit he gained during his mandate as a Prime Minister, and who is probably starting a political “dry period”. This episode is likely to accelerate the overhaul – and perhaps the dislocation – of the Socialist party, which is strongly divided over François Hollande’s pro-business shift.

Last but not least, this primary did not massively mobilized the socialist supporters, as only 1.9 million voters took part at this nomination process versus 2.7 million in 2011. The main reason is that the polls suggest the Socialist candidate would come fifth with less than 10% of the votes in the first round on April 23. That would be behind Emmanuel Macron, Mr Hollande’s former economy minister, who is running as an independent, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left leader.