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Socialist left celebrates Hamon victory
France's Socialist Party supporters chose left-winger Benoît Hamon as their presidential candidate. Results from the runoff in the primary of Socialists and their allies Sunday showed Hamon beating his centrist rival Manuel Valls, a former prime minister, with more than 58 percent of the vote in a clear victory for the left wing of the party.
When the results were announced, the crowd at Hamon's headquarters went wild.
Their candidate won with a clear 58.65 percent against Valls with only 41.35 percent.
Just minutes after the results were announced and the big screens showed Valls giving his acceptance speech, Hamon himself came to the stage in the big auditorium of Paris's Maison de la Mutualité.
Then it was party time - waiters went round with snacks and wine and the left-wingers were exultant.
"It was not unexpected," says Richard, a member of Hamon's campaign team who went around town canvassing. "Two or three weeks ago, nobody would have thought we would be able to do that. It is amazing to see that we have been able to convince people to vote for us."
"We are very happy," adds Laurent, a member of the Young Socialists. We didn't expect this score. He was only at eight percent earlier on. And there were lots of arguments within the Socialist Party. We don't have the same ideas about socialism."
Laurent is not worried about where Hamon is going to find money to carry out a plan that must provide citizens with a basic income of 700 euros.
"It is not for the 64 million French in the beginning. At first we will increase the minimum income with 10 percent. It will be a new experiment," he points out.
Stéphanie, a card-carrying member of the Socialist Party, is overjoyed. "I am so happy. We have been expecting the victory of the left within the Socialist Party for quite a long time now."
She will now wait and see in how far Socialist Party members are going to follow Hamon, but she is optimistic. "It is like a rebirth of the party," she says.
The majority of the people present in the Maison de la Mutualité is younger than 40, and hopes on a rejuvenation of the party and new ideas that are expressed.
"I hope this will help to build a consensus inside the whole family of the French left. We hope that this result shows the commitment of the people from the left to carry our candidates up to the presidential elections," says Rémy Carton, deputy secretary general of the Young Socialists of the department of Hauts de Seine.
In three months time, on 23 April 23, Hamon will face, among others, the candidates of right-wing Republicans, François Fillon, and the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, for the final showdown over who will become the new president of France.