Benoit Hamon has become the French Socialist Party’s candidate in this year’s presidential elections, after winning a run-off vote on January 29.
The ex-education minister comfortably beat former PM Manuel Valls, who conceded before the final tally was completed.
However, the Socialists are not expected to do well in the election as the outgoing president, Francois Hollande, has a very low approval rating.
Conservative Francois Fillon, right-wing Marine Le Pen, and centrist Emmanuel Macron lead the polls for April elections.
With 60% votes counted in the Socialist run-off, Benoit Hamon had just over 58% to Manuel Valls’ 41%.
After his win was announced, Benoit Hamon said: “Despite the differences, the forces of the left have never been so close in terms of ideas. Let’s come together.”
Image source Wikipedia
Benoit Hamon, 49, called on the Socialist Party, independent left-winger Jean-Luc Melenchon, and a Green candidate to unite and “construct a government majority”.
He was the most left-leaning of the seven initial candidates in the Socialist race, the first round of which was held last week.
Benoit Hamon has experienced a surge in popularity from a range of progressive plans, including a proposal for a universal monthly income for all citizens.
He also wants to legalize cannabis, and ditch the labor law passed last year that made it easier to hire and fire.
Anyone was allowed to vote in the primary, even those who were not party members.
According to organizers, the turnout was much higher than the previous week, when 1.6 million people cast ballots.
However, there have been reports of mismanagement, with one reporter from news site Buzzfeed saying she had been allowed to vote four times in the second round. She said she voided her ballot so as not to affect the outcome.
Journalists from Le Monde newspaper also claimed they were permitted to vote more than once in the first round.
Manuel Valls had built his campaign on his experience gained as prime minister between 2014 and 2016.
The presidential race has taken a turn in recent days, with the favorite for the post, Francois Fillon, becoming embroiled in a controversy over payments to his wife for political work – which a French publication claimed there was no evidence she carried out.
Francois Fillon denies the allegations, and said he would drop out of the race if there was enough evidence to launch an investigation.
On January 29, Francois Fillon and his wife were side by side at a Paris rally that sought to reinvigorate his candidacy.
In his speech, Francois Fillon said: “Leave my wife out of the political debate!”
Francois Fillon’s scandal could potentially be a boost for Marine Le Pen, the anti-immigration hardliner who has pledged to put “native” French people first.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has submitted the government’s resignation to President Francois Hollande and has been asked to form a new cabinet.
The French government was badly shaken on Sunday by criticism over its handling of the economy by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg.
Moments after Manuel Valls’s resignation President Francois Hollande issued a statement.
Francois Hollande asked Manuel Valls to set up a new cabinet “consistent with the direction [Francois Hollande] has set for the country”.
The prime minister had accused Arnaud Montebourg of “crossing a yellow line” after the economy minister had attacked austerity measures which he said were strangling France’s growth.
France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has submitted the government’s resignation to President Francois Hollande and has been asked to form a new cabinet
Arnaud Montebourg told a meeting of Socialists in eastern France that the time had come to put up a “just and sane resistance” to the “excessive obsessions of Germany’s conservatives”.
On Saturday, Arnaud Montebourg told Le Monde newspaper that Germany was trapped in an austerity policy that it imposed across Europe”.
He was backed up by education minister Benoit Hamon and appeared to have the support of culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, too.
Benoit Hamon called on Sunday for a revival in demand and for an end to German Chancellor Angela Merkel setting Europe’s direction: “You can’t sell anything to the French if they don’t have enough income.”
Manuel Valls became prime minister in March after a poor performance by President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party in local elections.
Earlier this month, the French government admitted it would be impossible to reach a previous growth forecast of 1%. Germany saw its economy shrink by 0.2% between April and June.
Arnaud Montebourg told French radio shortly before Manuel Valls announced the government’s resignation that he had no regrets about his remarks, “first of all because there’s no anger”.
There was no debate about authority, Arnaud Montebourg told Europe 1 radio, but a “debate about economic direction”.
French government has announced today that meat processing company Spanghero knowingly sold horsemeat labelled as beef.
Spanghero’s licence is being suspended while a probe continues, agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll said.
The firm has denied the allegations, saying it only ever dealt in meat it believed to be beef.
A widening scandal over mislabelled horsemeat has affected at least 12 European countries.
In the UK, three people have been arrested on suspicion of fraud in connection with the sale of horsemeat.
Two suspects were detained at a meat processing plant near Aberystwyth in Wales, and a third was arrested at an abattoir in West Yorkshire.
The French government believes that the sale of horsemeat labelled as beef went on for six months and involved around 750 tonnes of meat.
Spanghero imported meat from Romania and sold it on to another company, Comigel, which made frozen ready meals at its factory in Luxembourg.
French consumer affairs minister Benoit Hamon said the meat left Romania clearly and correctly labelled as horse. It was afterwards that it was relabelled as beef.
“From the investigation, it would seem that the first agent or actor in this network who stamped <<beef>> on horsemeat from Romania was Spanghero,” Benoit Hamon said.
There was “no reason to doubt the good faith” of the Romanian abattoir that originally provided the meat, Benoit Hamon added.
French government has announced today that meat processing company Spanghero knowingly sold horsemeat labelled as beef
The investigation says some blame may rest with Comigel, which made the ready meals sold around Europe.
Staff there should have noticed anomalies in the paperwork, and realized from the smell and look of the meat once it was defrosted that it was not beef, Benoit Hamon said.
Spanghero has strongly denied wrongdoing.
“Spanghero confirms having placed an order for beef, having been led to believe it received beef, and having sold back what it thought was beef, properly labelled as such, in line with European and French regulations,” the company said in a statement.
The latest country to be hit by the crisis is Germany, where some supermarket chains have removed frozen lasagne from sale after traces of horsemeat were detected.
The widening scandal has raised questions about the complexity of the food industry’s supply chains across the Europe.
The UK has asked the European investigative agency Europol to coordinate a continent-wide investigation into an alleged international conspiracy to pass horsemeat off as beef.
On Wednesday the EU urged member states to conduct random DNA tests for horsemeat in beef products from 1st of March.
EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said the programme of random tests should report after 30 days, but testing should continue for three months.
Tonio Borg was speaking after a meeting in Brussels with agriculture ministers from affected countries.
He said member states should also test for the presence of the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone – known as “bute”.
The painkiller is used to treat horses – particularly racehorses – but is considered potentially harmful to humans.
On Thursday Britain’s Food Standard Agency – the FSA – said that tests found eight horses, killed in the UK, tested positive for bute and six may have entered the food chain in France.
But England’s chief medical officer said the highest level detected posed “very little risk to human health”.
The prime minister’s spokesman said the UK was working closely with the French authorities to track the carcasses.
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