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'Finally some hope’, supporters of Benoît Hamon say

Will, 36 years old, picked Benoît Hamon
Will, 36 years old, picked Benoît Hamon Catherine Richardson

Supporters of hard-left Socialist Benoît Hamon celebrated on Sunday their candidate's victory to the party's ticket for the French presidential election, hoping he will be the one to unify a divided left.

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Amid loud cheers and thunderous applauds, a sense of relief seemed to envelop the crowd at French politician Benoît Hamon’s victory rally in Paris on Sunday, with many saying his presidential nomination is their last hope for France’s left.

“He’s just what we need,” Fayçal Bouricha from Paris’s troubled northern suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois told FRANCE 24 while attending Hamon’s rally in the capital’s fifth arondissement, where hundreds of supporters had gathered. “He’s young, he has ideas to renew the Socialist Party and he’s in touch with what’s actually happening in society today. He’s in touch with reality. Valls seems to be offering nothing new. I don’t see him changing anything,” he said.

Eighteen-year-old Parisian Charlotte Meyer agreed. “This gives us hope and it’s an opportunity for a new kind of society that won tonight. It’s a new chapter,” she said as she joined her friends by the wine stand to celebrate the win.

Ariel Martinez, 45, an Italian-born Parisian who was not allowed to vote in Sunday’s election because of his nationality but who prides himself as being an avid Hamon supporter, said that thanks to Hamon’s victory, the French left now actually has a chance in the presidential election this spring. “Actually, I think we have more than a chance now. I think we WILL win,” he said, making the peace sign.

Another supporter, 23-year-old Justine who declined to give her last name, said that Hamon “is the only one left protecting the core values of the Socialist Party”.

Blasting electro

With the popular electro remix of “Prayer in C” by Lilly Wood and Robin Schulz blasting out of the speakers, Hamon entered the stage amid almost deafening cheers and applauds at the event hall Maison de la Mutualité to thank his supporters for trusting him with the nomination. “Your mobilisation is a sign of a living and vibrant left. It gives me considerable strength to represent you. Tonight, the left is raising her head, she turns to the future and she wants to win,” he said.

In his speech, Hamon, who is campaigning under the banner “Make France’s heart beat”, also addressed France’s youth directly, saying that with their “energy, creativity and solidarity, it is up to them to show the French the way”.

“The world before you is more unstable than ever: Donald Trump’s accession to power in the United States, the pressure that [Russia’s] President Vladimir Putin is putting on Europe and the situation in the Middle East, the threat of Islamist terrorism by our doors, the environmental dangers. But everyone can clearly see that if we approach these challenges with fear in the pit of our stomachs, we will end up with [presidential] candidates representing fear".

After his clear victory, Benoît Hamon now faces the hard task of trying to unite a divided left.

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