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Left whispers in France

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Issue 2538
Socialist Party favorite Benoit Hamon
Socialist Party favorite Benoit Hamon (Pic: Pleclown/WIkimedia commons)

After five years in office hammering workers, the Labour-type Socialist Party in France looks set to pick an outspoken opponent of its own policies as presidential candidate.

Benoit Hamon is one of two ministers whose resignations in protest at austerity brought down prime minister Manuel Valls’ cabinet in 2014. Now he is well ahead of Valls in the centre left’s primary election.

President Francois Hollande already made history by declining to stand, faced with record low approval ratings of 4 percent.

If elected, Hamon vows to repeal the Work Law that French workers fought so valiantly against last year and to introduce a universal basic income.

He would take in more refugees, end France’s dependence on nuclear power and cut the working week to 32 hours.

Hamon is unlikely to win the presidental election. Bitter resentment at Hollande’s policies has splintered the Socialist Party.

Splits from its left and its right wing have both pulled ahead of it in the polls. The race is dominated by homophobic Tory Francois Fillon and fascist Marine Le Pen.

Turnouts in its primary were low. And Hamon kept aloof from the movement against the Work Law, emphasising parliamentary manoeuvres that failed to stop it.

But despite these limitations, his success shows that the mood that Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders tapped into is alive in France as well.

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