- Title: Valls accepts defeat in French Socialist primary saying proud of record
- Date: 29th January 2017
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (JANUARY 29, 2017) (REUTERS FOR AGENCY POOL) VALLS SPEAKING
- Embargoed: 12th February 2017 20:36
- Keywords: France election presidential Valls primary Socialist
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA009614VL1J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: French former prime minister Manuel Valls conceded defeat in the Socialist party presidential primary on Sunday (January 29) saying that history would look kindly on his government's record.
Voters backed his leftist opponent Benoit Hamon by 58.88 percent to 41.12 percent in the final round, according to partial results, and Valls told supporters in Paris that his rival's victory was decisive.
"Respecting your promises is deeply important for me. Benoit Hamon is now the candidate for our political family and now it's his job to succeed in bringing us together. I want to wish him good luck for the battle that lies ahead," he said.
Valls was prime minister under deeply unpopular President Francois Hollande, whose pro-business reforms including to French labour law alienated large sections of the left.
But Valls said that history would judge the government's record more kindly, highlighting successes including the intervention in Mali and the Paris climate accord.
"When the time comes, history will recognise the worth of our achievements. I'm telling you there'll be no reason to be ashamed of the work we've done, despite the divisions on our own side which have had serious consequences, and the lingering debate about betrayal," he said.
He told his supporters to remain vigilant against the rise of populism, with polls predicting the far right's Marine Le Pen will do well in the first round of the presidential election.
"A new page is turning. Now I have to take a step back to reflect, to analyse, to reinvent myself, I also owe it to myself to pay more attention to my loved ones," he said.
The selection of Hamon is seen as giving a boost to centrist ex-minister Emmanuel Macron, with many on the right of the Socialist party likely to be tempted to back him in the election.
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