Manuel Valls Refuses to Support Socialist Presidential Candidate Benoît Hamon

Manuel Valls, a member of the French Socialist Party, announced on March 14 that he will not sponsor fellow Socialist Benoît Hamon’s presidential bid. This largely symbolic statement reveals divisions within the Socialist Party.

Hamon defeated Valls, the former prime minister, in the second round of January’s Socialist Party primaries. While Hamon advocates for a universal basic income, a comprehensive welfare program that he claims would “improve the living conditions of a majority of French people who earn a salary that is insufficient to live on decently and with dignity,” Valls has been linked to several unpopular labor measures. Furthermore, Valls has come under fire for his anti-immigrant and xenophobic statements. With differing stances on some economic and several social issues, the two candidates have found little common ground.

Still, it is customary for members of the same political party to sponsor each other in the national elections. Several Socialist party members have voiced criticism of Valls’s unwillingness to support Hamon in the national presidential election. Cécile Duflot, the former-minister of Territorial Equality and Housing, considered Valls' refusal to be “treason,” and claimed that Valls should not have entered the race if he was not willing to support the Socialist victor. Valls responded to the critics, stating, “I will sponsor nobody, and I do not need to receive a lesson in loyalty or responsibility.”

Despite the absence of Valls’s support, Hamon has amassed the 500 sponsorships necessary to enter the national election. He will face-off against 10 other candidates in the first round of the French election on April 23.