EU Domestic Policy

French Socialist Party primaries: who’s running?

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The French Elections of 23rd April and 7th May are closing in, and the primary season is about to open in due order. Next week, on 22nd January, the French Socialist Party will hold primaries for the third time in its history, and it’s only the second open primary – the first was held in 2011 and saw the coronation of Hollande as the party candidate.
The primaries themselves will be crowded this year, with seven candidates vying for the nomination. Unless one of the candidates can get 50% of the primary vote, the two candidates with the most support will participate in a runoff election on 29
th Januuary. This will be the third time the Socialist have held a primary to choose their presidential candidate.

The open primary will affect both the Parti Socialiste (PS) and the Parti Radical de Gauche (PRG).

Manuel Valls

Former Prime Minister from 2014 to 2016, former Minister of the interior from 2012 to 2014 in Ayrault I and II Government.

The 54 year-old is considered the favorite for the primaries according to a variety of polls. He represents the liberal, blairite wing of the Parti Socialiste, promising to boost public spending and support the ability to withdraw French citizenship to bi-national terrorists. Valls has proposed to abolish article 49-3 of the French constitution, which allows the government to implement bills immediately without a vote, unless the opposition calls for a vote of no confidence.

 Arnaud Montebourg

Montebourg was Minister of the Economy, Recovery of Productivity and Digital Affairs during the first Valls Government. He is 54 years old and has a long history of activism steering to the left. Montebourg is critical of globalization, believes Brexit to be an economic opportunity for France, and is an opponent of austerity. He proposes measures to reverse austerity, lower income taxes while fighting against fiscal heavens, find a collective approach to security in the face of terror attacks, and engage in serious ecological reforms. His support of nuclear power won him little love from the Greens, but is in line with the view of the scientific community as part of the fight against climate change.

Benoit Hamon

Former junior Minister for the Social Economy during the first and second Ayrault Government. Former Minister of National Education during the first Valls Government.

Hamon, 49 years old, was a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009. He’s running on a platform based on social ecology, including the introduction of a universal minimum wage, regardless of personal wealth. Hamon targets a reduction of weekly working hours, and wants to launch a 35 billion-euro stimulus package to fight recession.


Vincent Peillon

Peillon has been a member of the European Parliament, member of Committee on Foreign Affairs, delegation for relations whit the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union and member of delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. Former Minister of National Education in first Ayrault Government.

Peillon 56 years old is a last minute entry, moderate and building reformist, proposed involve harmonized taxes, shared social rights, and a common Eurozone budget aimed at stimulating growth.


Sylvia Pinel

Leader of the Radical Party of the left from 3rd September. Former Minister of Territory Equality and Housing during the second Valls Government.

Pinel 39 years old, is also the primary’s youngest candidate. Plans to legalize cannabis and extend medically-assisted reproduction rights to single women and same-sex couples. She’s in favor of euthanasia rights, in accordance with the tradition of her party.


Jean-Luc Bennahmias

Member and co-founder of the Mouvement démocrate, together with Bayrou. Bennahmias is a former Mep during legislatures VII and VIII, as a member of G/EFA and ALDE groups.

The 62 year-old is also the primary’s oldest candidate. His platform calls for the introduction of some kind of universal basic income, major wage raises for employees in public professions and a total transition to renewable energy. Bennahmias supports sustainable farming and cannabis legalization. He’s also adamant that the EU needs further cooperation among member States.

François de Rugy

Leader of the Parti ècologiste, founded in September 2015.

The 43 yearold calls for a gradual transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050, and an end to all carbon-emitting transport by 2025. He supports the radicals in their fight for euthanasia, and he’s a proponent of gestational surrogacy.



External contribution by Silvia Porta


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