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Benoît Hamon aims to shake the Socialist Party

Video by Shirli SITBON , Pauline PACCARD

Text by Shirli SITBON , Pauline PACCARD

Latest update : 2008-11-14

With a surprise 19% of the votes for his manifesto as a Socialist would-be leader, Benoît Hamon, (41), who represents factions to the left of the party, is the latest face on the French political scene. He will play a key role in Reims.

Will Benoît Hamon be the one to take over the leadership of the socialist party? He got promising results in a recent vote and is set to confront Ségolène Royal.

The new face on the French political scene came as a surprise third runner up in a recent poll within the socialist party, gathering 19% of the votes.

 “Our forth place gives us hope. It gives us more legitimacy for tomorrow, so that we won't just play a minor role in the party but rather lead it,” says Hamon.

At 41, Benoît Hamon may be unknown to the wider public but he's extremely influential within the Socialist Party.

The son of a small family from Brittany, Hamon pushed his way up through hard work. He may have the looks of a young man but he has over 20 years of experience in politics.

As head of the Young Socialist movement in the early 1990s, he was an adviser to both former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and another party official, Martine Aubry.

Aiming to boost his career from the outside, Hamon left the party for a time, but quickly came back and became a member of the European Parliament and the party's national secretary for European affairs.

He pleaded against the European Constitutional treaty and supported Laurent Fabius in the party's primaries for the last presidential election.

He is now the declared left-wing candidate to the leadership of the party. Firmly opposed to President Nicolas Sarkozy's policies, Hamon aims to shake the party and free it from its traditional leaders, nicknamed the "elephants".

Hamon's left has no inferiority complex. “We aren't fascinated by the extreme left and even less by the floppy left. We won't spare the right”, he says.

A long-time amateur rugby player, Hamon describes himself as determined. Others say he's offensive. His slogan: "In politics, one must speak up to exist."

Date created : 2008-11-14