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France’s socialists nominate presidential candidate


France’s socialists nominate presidential candidate

Photo: EPA

On Sunday, France’s former PM Manuel Valls goes head to head with former Education Minister Benoit Hamon in the Socialist Party’s final primary vote. Hamon scooped 36% of support in last week’s first round, finishing comfortably ahead of Valls and former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who was eliminated.

Both Montebourg and Hamon were dismissed by Valls in 2014 for criticising his pro-business policies. Since being knocked out of contention, Mr Montebourg has urged his followers to support Hamon, likely giving the leftist an edge over his rival on Sunday.

However, the socialists are deeply unpopular and unlikely to mount a strong challenge for the presidency. Rather, independent Emmanual Macron appears to be emerging as a force. Although Macron also served under President Hollande, he’s successfully distanced himself from the historically unpopular administration and pledged to rule as a centrist.

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Meanwhile, centre-right candidate Francois Fillon finds himself mired in controversy over allegedly employing his wife in a $530,000 ghost job. Mr Fillon says he’ll step down if a criminal probe is launched, potentially blowing the field wide open in the most important election of 2017.

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