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Former French minister Duflot knocked out of Green Party presidential primary

Nicolas Tucat, AFP | Cécile Duflot (left) and Yannick Jadot (right) debate ahead of Wednesday's first round of voting. Jadot is through to the second round, but the former minister is out of the contest.

Former French housing minister Cécile Duflot on Wednesday was eliminated from the Green Party presidential primary, losing the first round of the poll to two lesser-known candidates.

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European MPs Yannick Jadot and Michèle Rivasi secured the most votes in Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV) in-party contest, and will move on to a run-off ballot scheduled for November 7.

The results of the primary came as a surprise to many in France, with opinion polls published before Wednesday’s election showing Duflot as the frontrunner. She came in third behind Jadot and Rivasi, but ahead of a fourth primary candidate, EMP Karima Delli.

Duflot admitted she was “disappointed” with the results as she conceded defeat in a Facebook post.

“We need an environmental candidate that will remain strong in the 2017 storm,” Duflot said in reference to next year’s presidential election.

“Each person will have to decide who to pick among the two top candidates. As for me, I will endorse whoever is nominated, as I have pledged to do,” Duflot added.

Duflot served as President François Hollande’s housing minister from 2012 to 2014. Although she quit in protest over the Socialist government’s pro free-market turn, her stint as minister may have cost her support among fellow party members.

The Green Party made a similar surprising choice in presidential primaries in 2011. At the time they passed on celebrity environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, instead choosing a relatively unknown candidate, Eva Joly.

Whoever wins the party’s nomination faces an uphill battle for the Elysée Palace. Opinion surveys suggest he or she would garner less than 3% in the general election, despite historically low job approval ratings for Hollande and fellow Socialists.

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