Benoit Hamon, a former Socialist government rebel has won the first round of primaries to decide who will represent the country's beleagured Left in its presidential election; Now poised to meet ex-prime Minister Manuel Valls in a runoff. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.
A Socialist rebel taking on his former boss to be the left's candidate in the French presidential election. Traditional leftwinger Benoit Hamon winning the first round of party primaries on Sunday (January 22) night. Comfortably beating ex-prime minister Manuel Valls. The Socialist field now whittled from seven candidates down to two. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SOCIALIST PRIMARY CANDIDATE WHO CAME TOP IN FIRST ROUND, BENOIT HAMON, SAYING: "By making me come first, you've sent a clear message of hope and change, a desire to write a new chapter in the history of the left and France." Hamon was sacked from government by President Francois Hollande for criticising his economic policies. While Valls was a Hollande loyalist when in government. Former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg was eliminated, and quickly called on his supporters to back Hamon in next Sunday's (January 29) second round. Valls supporters are still vocal in their belief. Cheering him to the stage as he told them there's still everything to play for (SOUNDBITE) (French) CANDIDATE FOR SOCIALIST NOMINATION FOR FRENCH PRESIDENCY, MANUEL VALLS, SAYING: "A very clear choice is now before us and before you, my dear compatriots. The choice between certain defeat, and possible victory. The choice between promises which can't be realised or funded, and a left which is credible, which faces up to the country's responsibilities." The men will now contest the second round on Sunday. Valls calling on Monday (January 23) for a big voting turnout. Either way opinion polls indicate no Socialist has much chance of getting beyond the first round of the spring election, chiefly due to Hollande's wide unpopularity. The final outcome still hard to predict.