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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 warned that his country could face chemical or biological attack from terror groups, as lawmakers debate the state of emergency extension following last week’s attacks in Paris.

Belgian police have meanwhile raided properties linked to suspected Paris attackers Bilal Hadfi and Salah Abdeslam.

Seven raids took place in and around Brussels, and one person was detained, Belgian media reported.

November 13 attacks in Paris killed 129 people.

PM Manuel Valls was addressing France’s lower house of parliament before its deputies voted to extend the state of emergency by three months.

He told lawmakers that “terrorism hit France, not because of what it is doing in Iraq and Syria … but for what it is”.

“What is new are the ways of operating; the ways of attacking and killing are evolving all the time,” Manuel Valls said.Manuel Valls French parliament Paris attacks

“The macabre imagination of those giving the orders is unlimited. Assault rifles, beheadings, suicide bombers, knives or all of these at once.”

Manuel Valls also called for Europe to adopt measures on sharing information about airline passengers as a way of protecting collective security.

French police officers will be allowed to carry their weapons while off duty as long as they wear an armband to identify them, under a police directive issued to coincide with the state of emergency.

Paris police have extended their ban on gatherings and demonstrations until midnight on November 22, although they will be allowed at the various sites attacked on November 13.

It remains unclear whether the suspected ringleader of the attacks was killed in yesterday’s raid in Paris.

French authorities say the raid on a flat in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis foiled another attack, reportedly planned for the La Defense business quarter of western Paris.

Eight people were arrested in the raid, in which police fired over 5,000 rounds of ammunition, but those arrested did not include Abdelhamid Abaaoud – suspected of being the man who organized the Paris attacks.

At least two people were killed in the raid, one of them a woman who blew herself up with a suicide vest.

She is widely reported to be Hasna Aitboulachen, a cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Further attacks by ISIS were likely elsewhere in Europe, according to the head of the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol.

French PM Manuel Valls has said his country will do all it can to keep Greece in the eurozone, because allowing it to leave would be too risky.

“The basis for a deal exists,” Manuel Valls said ahead of an emergency eurozone summit.

However, Germany has warned against any unconditional debt write-off.

Eurozone ministers have called on Greece to put forward fresh proposals after Greek voters rejected the latest draft bailout deal in a referendum.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras met Greek political party leaders on July 6 and headed to Brussels on July 7, where he is expected to present new proposals.

His plan is said to include a demand for Greece’s vast €323 billion ($356 billion) debt to be cut by up to 30%.

Greece’s teetering banks are to stay closed on July 7 and July 8.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is maintaining its pressure on the banks, refusing to increase emergency lending and ordering them to provide more security for existing emergency loans.Grexit Greece debt crisis 2015

European finance ministers and officials gathered in Brussels told reporters they wanted to hear new proposals from Greece’s new finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, ahead of a full summit of eurozone leaders later.

“On Sunday the Greeks gave their voice but there are also 18 other countries with a voice,” cautioned European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

Peter Kazimir, finance minister of Slovakia – one of the countries with the highest exposure to Greek debt – said he was “skeptical” that a deal would be found, adding that debt relief was a “red line for my country”.

In his comments on July 7, Manuel Valls said the eurozone could not “take the risk of Greece leaving” – for economic as well as political reasons.

“There is no taboo subject when it comes to [Greek] debt,” he told French radio.

Germany, which takes a tougher line, has warned against any unconditional write-off of Greece’s debt, amid fears it would destroy the single currency.

“The other 18 member states of the euro can’t just go along with an unconditional haircut [debt write-off],” said German economy minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

The differences between the French and German stances on Greece reflect a fissure running through the EU, say correspondents.

Several eurozone countries – including Malta, Slovakia and Estonia – are owed significantly more by Greece as a percentage of GDP than Germany or France.

Meanwhile, the ECB said it would keep emergency cash support for Greek banks, which are running out of funds and on the verge of collapse, at the same frozen level – refusing requests for additional support.

It told the banks to lodge more collateral – or assets – with the Bank of Greece, reducing the amount of spare cash the banks have.

Capital controls have been imposed, with people unable to withdraw more than €60 a day from cash points.

The European Commission – one of the “troika” of creditors along with the IMF and the ECB – wanted Athens to raise taxes and slash welfare spending to meet its debt obligations.

Greece’s Syriza-led left-wing government, which was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, said creditors had tried to use fear to put pressure on Greeks.

France’s President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under Prime Minister Manuel Valls, dropping ministers who rebelled against austerity cuts.

The first government of Manuel Valls, who was appointed less than five months ago, fell on Monday after a row with Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

Arnaud Montebourg resigned along with two other ministers from the left.

He will be replaced by Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild banker and ex-presidential economic adviser.

President Francois Hollande is seeking a coherent line on economic policy after recent criticism from the left wing of his Socialist Party.

Many see it as his last chance to make a successful presidency, after his recent poll ratings sunk to 17%.

For the first time, a woman – Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – will be put in charge of education, replacing Benoit Hamon who also lost his job.

President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under PM Manuel Valls

President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under PM Manuel Valls (photo Reuters)

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was minister for women’s rights in the last cabinet.

Meanwhile, Fleur Pellerin has been made minister for culture, replacing Aurelie Filippetti who is also out of the government.

Key ministers in the previous cabinet, like Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Finance Minister Michel Sapin, retain their posts.

Francois Hollande’s former partner and the mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, will retain her post as environment and energy minister.

The president said earlier that the new cabinet should “cohere to the directions of the prime minister”, who is on the party’s right wing.

PM Manuel Valls said he would hold a parliamentary vote of confidence in September or October, speaking in a TV interview after the new ministers were named.

“And you will see, the majority will be there. There can be no other way. If the majority isn’t there on that occasion, it would be finished. We couldn’t finish our work,” he told France 2 TV.

Manuel Valls also defended the choice of a former banker for new economy minister, saying: “So what? Can one not in this country be an entrepreneur? One can’t be a banker?”

Arnaud Montebourg quit after publicly urging the government to end austerity policies and focus on growth.

France is struggling with high unemployment and low growth, and Francois Hollande’s popularity is the lowest for a president in more than 50 years.

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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

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”.

Segolene Royal, President Francois Hollande’s ex-partner and the mother of his four children, has joined France’s new government in a major reshuffle by the ruling Socialists.

Segolene Royal, 60, will serve as environment minister in the cabinet of new Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Manuel Valls was appointed prime minister after the Socialists suffered a humiliating defeat at local elections.

The Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, has left the government, with his job now split between two ministers.

Michel Sapin takes charge of finance while Arnaud Montebourg will be in charge of industry and economy.

Segolene Royal is President Francois Hollande's ex-partner and the mother of his four children

Segolene Royal is President Francois Hollande’s ex-partner and the mother of his four children

Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian keep their positions as foreign affairs and defense ministers in the new cabinet, which replaces that led by Jean-Marc Ayrault.

President Francois Hollande, 59, is one of the most unpopular French leaders in decades, having failed to restore the economy.

It is open to question how many of the key new appointments were the choice of Manuel Valls alone. Michel Sapin is a long-time close friend of Francois Hollande.

Michel Sapin’s first task will be to persuade the EU that France is on track after the country again missed its deficit target.

While Manuel Valls is on the right of his party, the new economy minister is most definitely to the left, having previously accused the EU of damaging growth with its demands for cuts.

It is said that Francois Hollande’s most recent official partner, Valerie Trierweiler, had opposed Segolene Royal’s appointment to any position in the government.

Francosi Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler officially split up in January after it emerged he had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.

Le Monde ran the headline The revenge of Segolene Royal on its web edition and one French blogger wrote on Twitter: “Sego [Segolene] nominated, break with Trierweiler complete.”

The return of Segolene Royal to government follows a long period when she was out of the political spotlight.

Segolene Royal was the Socialist candidate in the 2007 presidential election, but lost to Nicolas Sarkozy.

Manuel Valls served in the previous cabinet as interior minister, where he became one of few government figures popular among the wider French public.

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A 22-year-old man has been arrested in France in connection with a knife attack on soldier Cedric Cordier near Paris on Saturday, officials say.

The suspect, known as a radical Muslim, was detained on Wednesday morning in the Yvelines region, 45 km (28 miles) southwest of the capital, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.

The “dangerous” man was traced thanks to evidence at the scene, he added.

French anti-terrorist investigators are handling the case, saying the soldier was targeted because of his profession.

Witnesses had earlier described the attacker as a bearded man of North African origin.

The man, named Alexandre, was monitored on security cameras and seen taking off his robe and running away wearing European clothes, officials said.

The stabbing took place three days after the killing of British serviceman Drummer Lee Rigby outside a barracks in the Woolwich area of London.

French President Francois Hollande said that while all theories would be investigated, there was no evidence to link the two attacks.

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in France in connection with a knife attack on soldier Cedric Cordier near Paris on Saturday

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in France in connection with a knife attack on soldier Cedric Cordier near Paris on Saturday

The suspect was a petty criminal known to police, correspondents say.

Speaking on French TV on Wednesday, Manuel Walls warned against jumping to early conclusions.

The minister said that although there were signs that the suspect may be linked to radical Islam, the investigation was still in its early stages.

“I remain cautious,” the minister said.

“We need to know more about his motives, his background, his family environment.”

Pfc Cedric Cordier, 23, was approached from behind and stabbed in the neck with a small-bladed knife in La Defense business district on Saturday.

The attack took place in a busy underground hall where shops and public transport lines converge in La Defense business district.

The victim was in a stable condition after the attack, police said.

France is on high alert following a threat from the North African wing of al-Qaeda, related to the country’s involvement in Mali.

The raised alert level is one of the reasons why soldiers are on patrol in central Paris and other high-profile areas, correspondents say.

Last March, soldiers were targeted by Islamist militant Mohamed Merah in the Toulouse area of southern France.

He shot dead three French paratroopers then attacked a Jewish school, murdering three children and an adult, before being killed in a police siege.