The Programs of France’s Presidential Candidates Compared

Polls suggest five candidates stand a chance of qualifying for the crucial second voting round in France’s presidential election next month.

They range from the far left to the far right, but a look at their policies suggests that these categories may have outlived their usefulness. Read more

Hamon, Macron Face Putin Apologists in French Debate

French presidential candidates François Fillon and Benoît Hamon shake hands before a debate in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, March 20
French presidential candidates François Fillon and Benoît Hamon shake hands before a debate in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, March 20 (AFP/Eliot Blondet)

Benoît Hamon and Emmanuel Macron don’t have a lot in common. The former wants to raise taxes in France in order to finance a universal basic income. The latter wants to cut taxes and reduce public spending.

Yet the two presidential candidates made common cause on Monday, when they faced three Putin apologists in the first televised debate of the 2017 campaign. Read more

Fillon and Macron Better Watch Out: French Left Considers Pact

French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon in 2015
French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon in 2015 (Alchetron)

Polls put François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron neck and neck to qualify for the second voting round of the French presidential election in May. Whoever gets the most support in the first round would face off with the far right’s Marine Le Pen in the second.

That could change if the candidates on the left managed to set aside their differences and unite around one man. Read more

Hamon’s Victory Could Help Macron in French Presidential Election

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron (Facebook)

By picking Benoît Hamon, a relatively inexperienced far-leftist, over the reformer Manuel Valls on Sunday to lead the French Socialist Party into the elections in April and May, the left may have thrown away what little chance it had of retaining the presidency.

Emmanuel Macron must be smiling. The defeat of his former boss could have hardly come at a better moment for the former economy minister, who is running for president independently.

Earlier this week, it emerged that his Republican opponent, François Fillon, had paid his wife around €500,000 from parliamentary funds over a period of eight years for an assistant’s job when it is unclear she did the work. Read more

French Socialists Nominate Far-Left Hamon for Presidency

French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon
French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon (Sipa/Alchetron)
  • French Socialists nominated Benoît Hamon, a former education minister, as their presidential candidate on Sunday.
  • Hamon got 58 percent support in a second voting round against 41 percent for his opponent, the former prime minister Manuel Valls.
  • Hamon is to the left of the party. His signature policies are the legalization of marijuana and the introduction of a universal basic income. Read more

Corbyn, Sanders, Hamon. Has the Left Given Up?

French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon
French Socialist Party lawmaker Benoît Hamon (Alchetron)

The triumph of the relatively unknown Benoît Hamon in the French Socialist presidential primary last weekend has inspired comparisons with fellow leftists Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom and Bernie Sanders in the United States.

The comparison is imprecise. Hamon’s vanquished primary opponent, Arnaud Montebourg, had more in common with Corbyn. Both are nostalgic for the times when blue-collar jobs paid well, trade unions were powerful and the welfare state was at its most generous.

Hamon is more forward-looking. His signature policies are a universal basic income funded by a tax on robots. Neither would be implemented overnight — if ever — but he is thinking about novel ways to preserve France’s high living standards at a time when many jobs may be automated or outsourced.

Low-skilled workers are already struggling to make a living under globalization. What if high-skilled, white-collar professionals are next? The solution is surely not a return to the 1970s.

All of which is not to say Hamon is more electable than Corbyn or Sanders. If anything, it’s their inability to win elections that really unites the three. Read more

Hamon, Valls Push Montebourg Out of French Presidential Contest

French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls, Benoît Hamon and Arnaud Montebourg
French Socialist Party presidential candidates Manuel Valls, Benoît Hamon and Arnaud Montebourg (Sipa/Alchetron/PS)
  • Former education minister Benoît Hamon and former prime minister Manuel Valls won the first voting round in the French Socialist Party’s presidential primary on Sunday.
  • Arnaud Montebourg, a former industry minister, finished third. He immediately endorsed his fellow leftist Hamon. Read more