France’s Socialists face a stark choice in today’s presidential primary between diehard leftist Benoit Hamon and reformist former prime minister Manuel Valls.
Hamon, the surprise winner of the first round of the Socialist Party’s primary last weekend, has wooed voters with his staunchly leftist proposals, notably the idea of a universal basic income, dismissed as a “mirage” by Valls.
He also wants to legalize marijuana and tax robots that replace workers.
The 49-year-old Hamon, round-faced with a schoolboy haircut, has a crowd-pleasing eagerness that contrasts with the square-jawed assertiveness of Valls, 54, who was interior minister before becoming prime minister.
Hamon joined a rebellion against what he saw as the socialist government’s rightward drift under Valls and President Francois Hollande, quitting as education minister in 2014.
The combative Valls has dismissed him as a dreamer with no hope of becoming president in May.
Socialist voters face a choice between “certain defeat” with Hamon as their nominee and “possible victory” if they chose him, Valls said confidently after the first round.
Yet polls show neither man making it past the first round in the presidential vote in April, with conservative former prime minister Francois Fillon, far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron leading the field.
After two-and-a-half years as prime minsiter, Valls believes he is the best-placed to defend France’s interests in the face of a new protectionist world order.
He has been particularly scathing of his rival’s signature proposal for a universal basic income.
“I want nothing of these mirages that evaporate in an instant and that sow disillusionment [and] bitterness,” he told an earlier campaign rally.
Valls’ parents, a Spanish painter father and Swiss-Italian mother, fled the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain to settle in France, though they traveled back to Barcelona for his birth in August 1962. He gained French citizenship when he was 20.
He has four children from his first marriage to a teacher. In 2010 he remarried, to concert violinist Anne Gravoin.
Valls makes no apologies for his pro-business stance and desire to modernize the Socialist Party.
However, his use of decrees to ram through contested economic reforms as prime minister, as well as a failed proposal to strip dual-national terrorists of their French citizenship, alienated many in the party.
Hamon, who hails from western Brittany, is the son of a dockworker father and secretary mother.
He began his political life as a student activist in the 1980s.
In 1986, aged 18, he joined massive student protests against proposed reforms, which then rightwing president Jacques Chirac was forced to withdraw.
A father of two with his partner Gabrielle Guallar, Hamon has a degree in history.
Valls has said “the left could die” unless two “irreconcilable” factions — one pragmatic and open to reforms, the other wedded to the class struggle — unite.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete