Implosion looms for French socialists as 'irreconcilable' presidential candidates head for knock-out vote

The first round of the French Socialist Party’s primaries to choose its candidate for this spring’s presidential  elections saw leftist former education minister Benoît Hamon arrive in the lead, followed in second place by Manuel Valls, on the party’s Right and who last month resigned as prime minister to take part in the race. Hamon now has a significant chance of winning the second and final round between the two men to be held next Sunday. But whatever the result, the deeply divided Socialist Party faces implosion. Mathieu Magnaudeix and Christophe Gueugneau followed the two camps as the results unfolded during Sunday evening. 

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The two sides, the furthest apart of any in the French socialist primary elections, are “irreconcilable” to borrow the words of former prime minister Manuel Valls, who stepped down from government last month to take part in the race. He and Benoît Hamon, who served under Valls as education minister before leaving the government in protest over its drift to the Right, and who came in lead position in Sunday’s first-round result, will now face off together in the second and final round of the elections to choose a candidate for the Socialist Party and its allies in France’s presidential elections this spring.