Benoit Hamon became the socialist candidate for the 2017 French presidential election after defeating former Prime Minister Manuel Valls in the party primaries on the 29th of January 2017.
Hamon was firstly a Member of European Parliament from 2004 to 2009 with the Party of European Socialists.
He became minister for Social Economy at the beginning of Francois Hollande’s presidency in 2012. In 2014, he is appointed as Minister of National Education where he would stay for only four months after resigning from his office for being in contradiction with President Hollande’s policy.
He launched the movement of the “frondeurs” (slingers) within the government to express the discontent that members of the Socialist Party had towards the President’s policy.
The rebirth of the strong left.
During the three following years, he prepared his campaign to become the socialist candidate for the Presidential elections. He took time to set up a program that would move away from Hollande’s administration.
Although he was seen badly in 2014 when he decided to leave the President, his tactic seemed now to be the right one. Indeed, he largely defeated Manuel Valls, Hollande’s Prime Minister during two years, who chose to endorse his achievements and failures as PM.
Benoit Hamon’s program has become popular after his decision to create the Universal Income. He axed his campaign upon this long-term idea. Indeed, Hamon wishes first to increase of 10% the Revenu de Solidarité Active (Solidarity Income) and after create an universal income for all the French citizens.
As you may read on the illustration made by our colleagues from AFP, Benoit Hamon also wishes to erase all debts from the EU members. To his opinion, the Maastricht Treaty that establishes the rule of not being over 3% of your GDP in public debt is “unreachable, especially in time when important investments are needed”.
In terms of the Environment, the socialist candidate wishes to launch a long-term program. On top of banning all diesel fuels inside the country, Hamon wishes France to be supplied by 50% of renewable energy by 2025.
The El-Khomri Law: living proof of the division of the Socialist Party
In August 2016, the most commonly known as “Loi Travail” got adopted into law after very tough discussions, ending in Mr Valls forced to overcome the lower house (through the article 49.3). It ended in a terrible breakdown within the Socialist Party. Many of the members of the party felt that they were let down by their politicians. Indeed, the law is meant to withdraw many principles for the workers, to “bring more freedom and new protections for the companies and actives.”
Benoit Hamon clearly explained that, if elected, the Law would be repealed, listening to more than a million of voices who signed a petition to abrogate the law back in August. But doing so would obviously be a breakdown with the former Valls’ supporters who could be keen to vote for Mr Macron for instance.
Benoit Hamon has therefore the difficult task to find common ground among members of a Socialist Party that seems more divided than ever.
“I think he has actually opened new horizons for the Socialist Party”
Recently, The French Report had the opportunity to meet Michael Vincent, Secretary of the Socialist Party in London. He explained that Benoit Hamon opened up “new horizons with a very honest and coherent program that really embodies the left”. Such as his candidate, Michael calls the other candidates on the left (Melenchon, Jadot) to create an unique force and reach the Elysée.
Fourth in the polls so far behind Le Pen, Macron and Fillon, Benoit Hamon is in an outsider position and has therefore very little to loose in this election compared to his opponents.
More on Hamon’s race to the Elysée: