Leftist Underdog Benoit Hamon Likely to Win French Socialist Primary to Be Presidential Candidate

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Ex-French PM Manuel Valls slapped by teenager on campaign trail

A hard-left underdog candidate looks likely to win the presidential nomination for France’s Socialist party in a primary race this week, after he won the first round of the primary on Sunday.

Benoit Hamon, a former education minister who includes plans for a universal citizens’ income at the heart of his platform, came from a third place position in many opinion polls to win the primary’s first round.

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The left-winger beat the contest’s favorite, former prime minister Manuel Valls, who is aligned with the party’s reformist right wing.

Hamon took 36.35 percent of the vote, according to provisional results based on about 80 percent of the final tally, with Valls in second place on 31.11 percent.

Valls and Hamon will now face off in the final round of voting this Sunday. Hamon will enjoy the backing of Arnaud Montebourg, a fellow leftist primary candidate who did not make the second round.

The combination of Hamon’s commanding surprise win and Montebourg’s backing means some analysts have declared Hamon the favorite to win the nomination.

British bookmakers Ladbrokes said Hamon was now the fourth favorite to win the presidency, ahead of Valls and behind the center-right Republicans’ Francois Fillon, the far-right National Front’s Marine Le Pen and centrist independent Emmanuel Macron.

In a speech after his victory, Hamon said voters had sent "a clear message of hope and revival and a desire to turn a new page in the history of the Left and of France," the BBC reported.

Valls said the contest’s second round will be a choice for voters "between an assured defeat and possible victory."

French Presidential Election 2017
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