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Left Candidate Benoît Hamon Tops French Socialist ‘Primary’.

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Image result for benoit hamon faire battre le coeur de la france

Benoît Hamon: Tops Socialist ‘Primary’. 

On Saturday a a joint member of the Labour Party and the French Parti Socialiste, who had been a supporter of President François Hollande, told me that she’d voted for the left candidate Benoît Hamon.

I was surprised, but, in retrospect, this support helped prepare my mind for the news that on the Sunday ‘Primary‘ Hamon beat the recent Prime Minister Manuel Valls, a dedicated ‘social liberal’ and admirer of Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way.

This is the result of the election to decide who will be their Presidential candidate this April in which 1,6 million people took part.

Principal candidates: Benoît Hamon (36,35 %) Manuel Valls (31,11 %). Arnaud Montebourg, 17,52 %.

The others scored much smaller: 6,85 % Vincent Peillon, 3,88 % pour François de Rugy, 1,97 % pour Sylvia Pinel (the only woman, a member of the Parti Radical de gauche) et 1,01 % pour Jean-Luc Bennahmias (the small Green party, the Front démocrate) (le Monde)

This ‘primary’ of the “Belle Alliance populaire”, was originally intended to be open to the whole French left. But as can be seen apart from the Socialists, only two tiny parties of the centre left took part.

Montebourg who is strongly  on the left, has now called for support for Hamon in the Second Round, on the 29th of January.

49 years old Benoît Hamon served under Prime Minister Ayrault government as ministre délégué chargé de l’économie sociale et solidaire. His best known post was as Education Minister under Manuel Valls in 2014, where his efforts to change the organisation of the school year led to opositon from teachers.

Opposed to many of the policies of Prime Minister Valls and calling for a change in his economic strategies (le changement de politique économique) he, and Montebourg, were ejected from the Cabinet in 2014 (Quand Valls raconte comment il a viré Montebourg et Hamon du gouvernement). He then became one of the prominent “frondeurs” who opposed Valls, from his budget plans to the reform of labour laws, in the National Assembly.

Hamon’s key policy is a ‘revenu universal’, Basic Income, paid to all (see: Pro Basic Income candidate set to win Socialist Primary election).

Other proposals include institutional reforms (bring back Parliamentary control over laws, and limiting the power of the executive  to override this), an ecological ‘tax’, a reduction in the use of nuclear power,  a ‘police’ to fight against discrimination, and the legalisation of cannabis.

Above all Hamon has promised to annul the labour reforms introduced by Manuel Valls (abroger la loi travail, dernière grande réforme du mandat).

Hamon, in short has some ideas, clearly on the left, which inspire hope for a better future amongst Socialist supporters.

It is hard not to suspect that Manuel Valls lost ground not only because he promised “more of the same”, that is to continue the policies of his highly unpopular government, but because he has shown himself intensely hostile to the left of his own party. By announcing that there was no room for compromise he went against the grain of PS member accustomed a spirit of compromise, or “synthesis” between different currents in the party. In the run up to the Primary his own backers were prominent in throwing the blame for their disastrous showing in opinion polls on ‘frondeurs’ like Hamon and Montebourg.

Valls meanwhile has declared war on those with illusions in Hamon’s unrealistic programme (Libération Valls le «combattant» part en campagne contre «l’illusion et l’irréalisme»)

If Hamon wins he faces an uphill battle.

Polls give any Socialist candidate less than 10% of the vote in the Presidential contest.

To the left Jean-Luc Mélenchon is polling at between 14 and 15 %

The centre-left , Emmanuel Macron with 24% stands at the threshold of winning enough votes to be able to get to the second round.

Already some ‘social liberal’ socialists are moving towards open support for Macron.

For many on the European left Hamon’s potential candidature is, by contrast, a  welcome sign of ideological renewal.

Official Campaign site.

Le projet

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm

8 Responses

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  1. The NYT takes an overview from a great distance.

    We of course are very near to France.

    The Guardian/Observer publishes good articles by Philippe Marlière, such as: French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s ‘anti-system’ angle is a sham:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/18/emmanuel-macron-anti-system-french-presidency

    This is not so good but still interesting: French Socialists in hunt for the candidate with a populist touch to challenge Le Pen. Kim Willsher.

    The Guardian seems to think that it’s another example of populism, which is not the case, Hamon is stands for a renewal of socialist radicalism that it not “populist” – in the French context an appeal to the “French” people, but more universalist.

    “Hamon’s anti-capitalist programme includes a “universal wage” (a form of basic income), work sharing, the use of referendums to decide policy and the legalisation of cannabis. It has been dismissed as utopian by centrist critics, but that will not worry Hamon overly.

    This is about the socialist movement showing that it can do populism and protectionism better than the far right.”

    “After the “champagne left” and the “caviar left”, Hamon is the “realistic left”, said Rabeh. “What is ‘utopian’ is people believing that ideas that have been shown not to work will somehow start to work. Benoît Hamon doesn’t have a miracle solution. He’s saying it’s not simple, but what the left and right have been doing hasn’t worked so let’s try something different, very different. What we are proposing is radical change. And I’m convinced that if this kind of left takes [control] of the PS we can halve the FN’s score.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/22/french-jeremy-corbyn-benoit-hamon-gains-ground-presidential-race

    Andrew Coates

    January 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm

  2. Excellent description of Hamon’s key supporters, “les jeunes actifs et les habitants des quartiers populaires.” (young people in work, and the inhabitants of working class areas).

    The left-winger has got the backing of Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille, and the standard bearer of the ‘social democratic’ tradition in the Socialist Party.

    She has called for “les électeurs de gauche à se mobiliser pour donner [à Benoît Hamon] la force, demain, de rassembler les gauches que nous n’avons jamais crues irréconciliables” That is, “the mobilisation of the left’s electorate to give Hamon the strength to bring together the different lefts, who *we* have never believed irreconcilable.”This is clear reference to his rival the social liberal ex-Prime Minister Valls who is pouring scorn – to say the very least – on Hamon.

    Benoît Hamon : la galaxie du nouveau favori

    http://www.liberation.fr/elections-presidentielle-legislatives-2017/2017/01/23/benoit-hamon-la-galaxie-du-nouveau-favori_1543577

    Andrew Coates

    January 24, 2017 at 11:26 am

  3. Can you explain more about what “Belle Alliance populaire” is? Where it came from? Who participates in it historically? How it arose? Thanks.

    @pplswar

    January 24, 2017 at 8:47 pm

  4. It comes from the idea floated in various places, including the Le Monde debate pages, that there should be a primary of the whole French left to decide on a Presidential candidate.

    Appel pour la constitution de la Belle Alliance Populaire https://www.labellealliancepopulaire.fr/

    Or to put it more crudely, PS General Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis manoeuvre: to draw on the left’s base around the Socialists.

    They had a “convention” in December last year (Grande convention nationale de La Belle Alliance Populaire http://www.parti-socialiste.fr/evenement/grande-convention-nationale-de-belle-alliance-populaire/)

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s unilateral decision to set up La France Insoumise and respond to the Call of Destiny by standing as a Presidential candidate (without the prior agreement of his allies in the Front de gauche) and Macron’s own candidacy put the mockers on that idea.

    The socialists then set up their primaire citoyenne with the support of those they could draw in, essentially micro-parties or ‘satellites’ of the PS: Front démocrate, Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Parti radical de gauche, Sylvia Pinel, and the Parti écologiste, François de Rugy.

    None of these amount to much.

    But like the practice of certain European Communist Parties in the past this enables the PS to expand its appeal to ‘people of good will’ by allowing them a separate political vehicle to belong to or identify with.

    Andrew Coates

    January 25, 2017 at 1:39 pm

  5. The French CP and the Left Front I guess didn’t go for this idea?

    @pplswar

    January 26, 2017 at 4:24 pm

  6. The Front de gauche was a bloc, or, as they sometimes call this kind of alliance of separate groups in France, a “cartel” not a this kind of array of satellites.

    They do not even have the weight of, say, the Portuguese Democratic Movement, Movimento Democrático Português, which was an ally of the Partido Comunista Português in the 1970s.

    For example, the so-called Parti écologiste should not be confused with the real French Green party, Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV) who are standing their own Presidential candidate (barely registering in the polls) Yannick Jadot (though with Hamon as the PS candidate some are said to want to back him rather than Jadot).

    Andrew Coates

    January 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm

  7. Does ‘cartel’ in the French usage have the same connotations of criminality and crooked-ness as it does in English? Ted Cruz regularly denounces “the Washington cartel” here in the States and nobody in politics would use that word to refer to something with any positive value.

    @pplswar

    January 26, 2017 at 8:53 pm


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