French socialists hold primary vote

French socialists hold primary vote

Left-wing voters in France will vote for their presidential candidate on Sunday. If, as is expected, no candidate receives a

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty

Left-wing voters in France will vote for their presidential candidate on Sunday. If, as is expected, no candidate receives a majority, voters will return for a Jan. 29 runoff.

Former PM Manuel Valls, long-favourite to lead the Socialist Party (PS) to April’s election, came off second best in last Sunday’s debate; a poll conducted shortly after showed voters found other candidates “more convincing”.

Beyond the primaries, PS is expected to perform poorly. President Francois Hollande has earned the unenviable title of being France’s least popular leader, tarnishing his party’s image. Instead, left-wing voters are increasingly turning to radical anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen – who’s adopted traditional leftist economic policies – and independent Emmanuel Macron.

While the 39-year-old Macron served under the Hollande administration, he’s successfully forged a path as a centrist. A former investment banker, Macron is running on a strong pro-EU platform, insisting more regional cooperation is needed to address France’s security and economic woes.

While Sunday’s vote may not be consequential in itself, those voters participating have an important decision to make come May’s second round presidential vote: support Le Pen’s protectionism or, as seems increasingly likely, vote for Macron’s pro-EU agenda.