Hamon, Valls top the list in French Socialist Party primaries

Paris, Jan 23 (IANS) Former Education Minister Benoit Hamon and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls topped the list after the first round of the French Socialist Party primaries held on Sunday, according to early counts.

First results from 3,090 polling stations out of a total 7,534, showed that Hamon obtained 35.21 per cent of the vote to the more centrist Valls’ 31.56 per cent.

Ex-Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg got 18.78 per cent of the vote.

The polls opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. local time.

If none of the candidates exceeds 50 per cent of the votes in the first primary round, the two top vote-getters will face off in a runoff next Sunday.

Authorities in charge of managing the vote said that “very nearly” two million voters, fewer than the 2.6 million who voted in the first primary round in 2011, cast ballots on Sunday.

That number is far below the 4.27 million people who voted nationwide in the first round of the centre-right primaries held on November 20, 2016.

Seven candidates vied in Sunday’s primary election: Valls, Montebourg, Hamon, former Minister Vincent Peillon, Radical Left Party candidate Sylvia Pinel, ecologist François de Rugy and Democratic Front leader Jean-Luc Bennahmias.