French Election

Implosion of the Socialists

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    France’s Socialist Party’s primary elections have laid bare the deep divisions within the party, bringing it on the verge of disintegration. This would pave the way for a center-right electoral victory and possibly for far-right electoral gains.

  • Facts


    • The Socialist Party is currently electing its nominee for the election in the spring.
    • Left-winger Benoît Hamon defied expectations and won the first round of the vote last Sunday with 36 percent of the votes. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls came second with 31 percent. In the run-off on Sunday, the party will choose its nominee.
    • Both candidates have little chance of winning the election, polls show the frontrunners are far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and conservative candidate François Fillon.
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Wahl des Präsidentschaftskandidaten der Sozialisten in Frankreich
Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that if the French Socialists court the radical left, the party will fall apart, paving the way for the moderate or radical right. Source: DPA.

By selecting a candidate, France’s Socialist Party wanted to bond and ensure its political survival. But things didn’t go that way, the nomination race is splitting the party. France’s political landscape is transforming in the process and the socialists are unlikely to govern again for decades to come.

This weekend the left-wing Benoît Hamon and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls face off in a second round of voting. Mr. Hamon has a better chance of securing a majority.

The two candidates have no common ground. Mr. Hamon is calling for an unconditional basic income and wants to abandon any policies that would consolidate state finances. He condemned the last five years of socialist government policy as a neoliberal aberration. Last year he tried to topple Mr. Valls in parliament with a no-confidence vote. The hostility couldn’t be more obvious.

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