What you need to know about the French left primary

Half of voters still have not made up their minds. [NeydtStock/Shutterstock]

The right has chosen François Fillon. Now it is up to France’s left to choose its candidate for the 2017 presidential election. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

The Socialist Party and its allies will begin the process of choosing their presidential candidate in the next two weeks. The exercise is now well-trodden ground for the French left, which organised the country’s first primary in 2011, attracting 2.6 million voters in the first round and 2.9m in the second.

People’s Alliance

The People’s Alliance (BAP) is a coalition of left-wing political parties that will come together under one banner for the presidential election. Centred around the Socialist Party (PS), the BAP also represents France’s other major centre-left and environmental movements, Génération écologie, the Democratic Front and the Ecologist Party, born from a schism within of Europe Ecology/The Greens.

Candidates confirmed on 17 December

The vote is not open to all comers. To make the final cut, candidates must receive the backing of either:

  • 5% of Socialist MPs,
  • 5% of full members of the national council,
  • 5% of mayors of towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants across ten departments and four regions,
  • or 5% of regional and departmental councillors from ten departments and four regions.

Candidates have until 15 December to present their documents to the organisers of the primary, who will unveil the list of finalists on 17 December.

Suspense at the top

Since this summer, several left wing candidates have come forward to take on François Hollande for the top job. The rebels within the PS are:

  • Arnaud Montebourg, François Hollande’s former minister for productive recovery
  • Benoît Hamon, MP for Yvelines and Hollande’s former minister of education
  • Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, a senator for Paris
  • Gérard Filoche, a member of the national office of the PS

And for the PS’ allies to the left of the government:

  • François de Rugy (Ecologist Party), vice-president of the National Assembly
  • Jean-Luc Benhamias (Democratic Front), a former MEP

François Hollande has still not announced whether or not he will run for a second term. This election would be a chance for him to clarify his strategy, if he is chosen to represent the left. And what about Manuel Valls? In the Journal du Dimanche, the prime minister did not rule out taking on Hollande for the presidency.

Mélenchon, Macron and the Radical Left Party go it alone

While the president himself may not have made his decision, there is no doubt about for some candidates. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished fourth in the 2012 election, announced his intention to stand again as early as February and said on Sunday (27 November) that he would refuse to take part in any primary.

The co-founder of France’s Left Party went out on a limb after failing to secure the nomination from his party’s elected politicians, courting its more radical activist wing to guarantee the nomination with 53.6% of the vote.

Emmanuel Macron has also decided to go it alone. After months of speculation, the former minister for the economy and founder of the party En Marche officially declared he would stand on 16 November, at a further education college in a Paris suburb.  He then published his manifesto, a book entitled Revolution, in which he lays out his “anti-system” vision for France.

The decision of the Radical Left Party (PRG) is a little more surprising. After sharing a list with the PS in the 2014 European elections, the party this Saturday (26 November) announced that its candidate, Sylvia Pinel, the former minister for housing and vice-president of the Occitan region’s general council, would not take part in the BAP primary but stand independently.

Emmanuel Macron officially enters the French presidential race

Emmanuel Macron has confirmed that he will stand for the French presidency next April. The former economy minister’s campaign will be based on Europe, which he sees as France’s only hope in the age of globalisation. EURACTIV France reports.

Round one: 22 January 2017

After a little more than a month of campaigning, interrupted by the Christmas festivities, the voters will cast their first ballot on 22 January.

This year, the PS has cut its budget. A little more than 8,000 polling stations will be set up, mainly in areas where the left performed well in the last elections.

But the choice of where to put these stations has been the subject of much debate between Arnaud Montebourg and the primary’s organisers. In 2011 the PS ran 9,500 polling stations and this year the Republicans deployed 10,200.

In order to cast a vote, members of the public will have to sign a document stating they share the values of the left and the ecologists and pay €1 at each round of the ballot. Each vote in the right wing and liberal primaries cost €2.

Referendums, France’s new election fad

Since Brexit, many of the candidates for the 2017 French presidential election have been campaigning to leave the EU or renegotiate the treaties. Some hope to validate these positions with referendums.

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