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Benoît Hamon Jean-Luc Mélenchon French politics Presidential election 2017 Socialist Party

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Socialist candidate Hamon gains ally, loses another as French Left looks forward to elections

Benoît Hamon at a rally in Blois, central France, February 21 2017. AFP/Jean-François Monier

The Socialist Party’s presidential candidate Benoît Hamon has been boosted by Yannick Jadot, the Green Party candidate who dropped out of the race to back him. But Hamon won’t have the support of rival far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who said on Monday it was “too late” for an alliance.

It’s been one step forward, one step back for the Socialist candidate this past week, as Hamon won the backing of Green Party candidate Yannick Jadot, but definitively lost that of Mélenchon.

Voters who had participated in the presidential primary of Jadot's Green Party (Europe Ecologie Les Verts, or EELV) approved the party's alliance with the Socialists by 80% on Sunday.

But Hamon won’t have the support of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who said in an interview published Monday by the daily Ouest France that he feared “it is far too late” for an alliance.

The two candidates met in Paris on Friday to discuss the possibility of forging a united Left front. But Hamon announced on Sunday that neither men wanted to drop out of the race.

“I saw him and he confirmed what I already knew, that he will remain a candidate,” said Hamon. “The situation is now clear.”

Mélenchon described their meeting in a similar manner. “I wasn’t surprised that he still wanted to run, just as he wasn’t surprised that I did as well,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Disagreement over European Union

The biggest sticking point between the two candidates is whether or not France should pull away from the European Union (EU).

Hamon has a more pro-EU stance than Mélenchon, who has called for moving away from European treaties and withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

In his interview with Ouest France, Mélenchon suggested that the two candidates’ diverging views on the EU was a gap too big to bridge. “Who actually believes that it would be possible for us to forge a last-minute alliance when we disagree on the future of the EU?”

“This is about preparing to lead a country, not personal arrangements,” Mélenchon continued.

This was further confirmed by his Facebook post, in which he writes that the breaking point between the two was “the essential question of Europe”.

Aggression ruled out

While Hamon and Mélenchon will continue their separate campaigns, they have both said that they will not attack each other.

“We agreed to adhere to a code of mutual respect,” Mélenchon wrote in his Facebook post.

As for Hamon, he has said his primary goal is to bring together left-wing voters. “Uniting the Left won’t stop here,” he said.