- Title: France's Valls urges big second round turnout as presidential bid stumbles
- Date: 23rd January 2017
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (JANUARY 23, 2017) (REUTERS) FRENCH NEWSPAPER "LE FIGARO" READING (French): "HAMON - VALLS: THE CLASH OF THE TWO LEFTS"
- Embargoed: 6th February 2017 10:32
- Keywords: left socialists Hamon Valls election France presidential
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00360AWO5J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Former French prime minister Manuel Valls called on Monday (January 23) for a big turnout in the second round of the Socialist primaries after a first round vote made left-wing rival Benoit Hamon frontrunner to represent the party in this year's presidential election.
Opinion polls show that no Socialist is likely to win the presidency. They make conservative Francois Fillon the favourite, and put Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front in second place.
But they also show that a victory for Hamon in next Sunday's decisive Socialist primaries second round runoff against Valls could expose the centre ground to which Valls hopes to appeal, and thereby boost the presidential prospects of independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.
"To all those voters in the first round, who I thank for taking part in this primary, but to all the rest, to those who believe in the left: do not despair, keep believing, mobilise, be optimistic again, be hopeful, that's what I want to represent," Valls said on RTL radio.
Hamon, 49, a traditional leftwinger, was sacked from government by President Francois Hollande in 2014 for criticising his economic policies.
In Sunday's first round he coasted to a comfortable win ahead of Valls, 54, who represents the more business-friendly second half of Hollande's term in government.
"I think there is no chance for the left to win unless it can put forward an imaginative and powerful politics against a right that is full-on and a far right that is dangerous. I've already said it, repeated it, today I want to bring about this imaginative, powerful politics which brings together social issues and environmental issues. It will no longer be one without the other," Hamon said on France Inter radio.
Hamon won about 36 percent of the vote to Valls' 31, according to partial results. The former education minister also secured the backing of Arnaud Montebourg, another left-winger who came in third with 18 percent, and was therefore eliminated along with four other candidates.
The outcome of next Sunday's head-to-head vote remains uncertain though.
Parisians said they were unsurprised over Hamon's win despite opinion polls showing Valls was the favourite to represent the Socialists in the presidential election.
"I'm pleased because I much preferred Benoit Hamon who seems to me to really defend the left's values. Whereas Manuel Valls, he led policies over five years which ended up defending the richer classes over the working classes," schoolteacher Edwige Marchand told Reuters.
During the primaries for centre-right party The Republicans, former French prime minister Fillon won the conservative ticket even though polls initially showed Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppe as the favourite.
Economist Nicolas Woloszko said a low turnout during the Socialist primary left him with little hope for the presidential elections in April and May.
"The rallying behind the Socialists was quite weak and I take that to mean it's bad news for the winning candidate in these elections," the 27-year-old said.
This year's primary is only the second in the history of the Socialist party and its allies. Anyone of voting age can participate. The first-round turnout involved only between 1.6 and 1.7 million of France's 44 million-plus voters.
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