Socialists Hamon, Valls victors in France's first-round party primary

A quick look at three main candidates and method of Sunday's vote for France's Socialist Party presidential candidate: --- MANUEL VALLS, 54 Resume: French interior minister from 2012-2014; French prime minister to December 2016.

Mr Hamon is fractionally ahead of Mr Valls - early results put Mr Hamon on around 35% of the vote with the former premier close behind on 32%.

The top two will go on to a second round which will decide which Socialist will compete in France's presidential election in April and May.

Valls is seen as a leading contender, but faces stiff competition from former education minister Benoit Hamon, and former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg.

Six men and one woman are taking part, including former Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The candidates, from the Socialist Party and its allies, will be narrowed down to two in this first round of voting.

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Hollande was regularly polling below 10 percent because of public dissatisfaction mainly with his economic policies.

Polls indicate Fillon, a former prime minister who has The Republicans ticket, is most likely to win if he is pitted against National Front leader Le Pen in a May 7 head-to-head.

Mr Hamon would tax robots, legalise cannabis and give all citizens 750 euro a month.

Calling on his supporters to vote for Hamon next Sunday, Montebourg said: "Voters massively and seriously rejected those who carried out free-market, austerity policies during the presidential term".

Fillon, who has proposed slashing public sector jobs, cutting business taxes, relaxing labour law, and scrapping France's 35-hour working week, is now being seen as the frontrunner.

  • Sonia Alvarado