The final fight for the French Socialist presidential nomination got under way Monday, with ex-prime minister Manuel Valls lashing out at his leftist rival over a universal income plan he said would “ruin” the country. Former education minister Benoit Hamon will take on Valls in a run-off vote next Sunday after scoring a surprise win in the first round of a primary seen as a battle for the party’s soul.
Dismissed as a lightweight when the campaign began in December, Hamon—who wants to tax robots and introduce a universal basic income—surged from behind with a raft of innovative ideas.
However the 49-year-old Hamon beat six Socialist rivals to win the first round with 35.9 percent of the vote, with Valls second on 31.2 percent, with ballots from almost all polling stations counted. Valls, PM under outgoing President Francois Hollande until resigning in December, on Sunday warned that picking a diehard leftist like Hamon would mean “certain defeat” in an election shaping up as a contest between the right, far-right and centre.
He mounted a fresh assault on his rival on Monday, telling TF1 television that Hamon’s universal income plan would be “the ruin of our budget” and accusing him of trying to deceive voters.—Agencies