- Title: Socialist candidates make rival pitches to left before French primary vote
- Date: 27th January 2017
- Summary: ALFORTVILLE, FRANCE (JANUARY 26, 2017) (REUTERS) VALLS WAVING (SOUNDBITE) (French) VALLS SUPPORTER, CELINE, SAYING: "He's a candidate who's both realistic and who speaks to the heart and the head of the left, who has proposals which are concrete and who will help tackle discrimination, reduce inequality, he's someone who'll really act so the most vulnerable people in the toughest circumstances can be treated correctly and live decently." SUPPORTERS AFTER MEETING
- Embargoed: 10th February 2017 00:08
- Keywords: French Socialist primary campaign Valls Hamon election presidential rally
- Location: MONTREUIL AND ALFORTVILLE, FRANCE
- City: MONTREUIL AND ALFORTVILLE, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00560PZ9L3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The last two men standing in the battle for the Socialist party nomination for the French presidency held rival rallies in the suburbs of Paris on Thursday (January 26), as supporters prepared to go to the polls at the weekend.
Former prime minister Manuel Valls and ex-education minister Benoit Hamon will face each other in the final round of the Socialist primary, though Hamon's stronger performance in the first round and the support of the eliminated third-placed candidate make him the favourite to clinch the nomination.
Hamon has said his candidacy represents a break from the past but his ex-boss Valls has attacked his election pledges, including a proposal to introduce a basic universal income, as not credible.
Addressing supporters at a rally in the eastern suburbs of Paris on Thursday, Hamon brushed off critics who said his manifesto is unrealistic.
"We have constructed collectively, and I do mean we, a future which we believe is desirable. That means a world in which we imagine our children might be able to have their own children. A world fit to live in for one thing, more equal, more fair, more fraternal, that's the perspective we're opening up, which other people might think is Utopian, but we accept that. Because we're starting from what's real and we're showing the way to what for us is the ideal," he said, adding he could unite the left behind him.
Many of those in the crowd were young supporters who were unconcerned by criticism about the cost of his proposals.
"There are some urgent challenges. There is the challenge of poverty, there's the environmental cost of what we're doing and debt can't prevent us from thinking about tomorrow," 19 year-old Yanis told Reuters TV.
"There are lots of people who criticise him because they say it's Utopian but it's like I was saying to one of my comrades the other day, it's the role of the politician to turn ideas into reality and that's what he's all about," 24 year-old Parisian Alazais said.
In the nearby suburb of Alfortville, Valls held his own meeting, insisting that despite trailing his rival by over 4 percent in the first round, all was not lost.
"An election is never, never tied up beforehand. And an election runs until the very end. And I'm telling you that I want to fight, I am fighting and I will fight until the end," Valls said.
"The 350 billion euros for the universal income, the change to a 32 hour working week, building a new aircraft carrier, expanding the number of public sector workers, in all Benoit Hamon's presidential term would cost at least 500 billion euros, and no one thinks for a single second that that is credible. You cannot be elected on a manifesto like that because the left would collapse and would lose all credibility," he said.
For his supporters, his two and a half years spent as prime minister make him a better candidate.
"He's a candidate who's both realistic and who speaks to the heart and the head of the left, who has proposals which are concrete and who will help tackle discrimination, reduce inequality, he's someone who'll really act so the most vulnerable people in the toughest circumstances can be treated correctly and live decently," Valls supporter Celine said.
The second round of the primary will take place on Sunday and organisers are hoping that more voters will turn out than the 1.6 million who voted in January 22's first round.
Whoever emerges victorious, polls indicate they are extremely unlikely to win the presidential vote in the spring, but the result may well impact the chances of the other candidate with the far left and centrist moderniser Emmanuel Macron all chasing the Socialists' votes.
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