French politician and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls unveils his election platform in Paris, France, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
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France's ailing, divided Socialists hold the first round of voting in their presidential primary Sunday, seeking unity and relevance as the country veers to the right after four years of leftist rule. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who forced through labor reforms unpopular with many Socialist members, was the longtime favorite to clinch the nomination.But he is being chased down by two candidates from the party's left flank, the protectionist maverick Arnaud Montebourg, and Benoit Hamon, who are tipped by pollsters to beat Valls in a second-round run-off on Jan. 29 .A poll published Thursday gave the 39-year-old between 17 and 21 percent of the vote in the first round of the election.Macron himself has ruled out a pact with the Socialists, announcing Thursday he would run his own candidates in parliamentary elections set for June.In the last debate between the seven candidates Thursday, Hamon was attacked over his proposal to pay the poor and 18-25-year-olds a universal income of 600 euros ($640) a month.
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