French public and Socialist presidential hopefuls including ex-prime minister Manuel Valls vote in a primary to pick a candidate for elections in the spring. Saskia O'Donoghue reports.
Socialist candidates joined voters at the ballot box Sunday (January 22) to make their voices heard in the nationwide presidential primary vote. Ex-prime minister Manuel Valls facing an outside risk of failing to make the run-off vote in a week's time. Opinion polls suggest no Socialist has much chance of winning the presidential election itself this coming spring, chiefly due to current president Francois Hollande's wide unpopularity. Valls voted in Evry, the Paris suburb where he used to be mayor before joining the government in 2012. Candidates to the left of Valls, such as former education minister Benoit Hamon and ex-economy minister Arnaud Montebourg, are nipping at his heels in the polls. Critics say pro-business Socialist Valls has struggled to defend his government's record. Despite this, he has constantly topped popularity polls, although Hamon was seen to have made a stronger impression in a series of televised debates. Formerly popular, the Socialist party has seen support evaporate during Hollande's presidency. He has struggled to turn the economy around and alienated left-wing voters with his economic policies. It's likely that the winner of the conservative nomination will go head-to-head with the far right National Front's Marine le Pen for the presidency come spring.