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French left-wing candidates fail to forge alliance in presidential race

Joel Saget, AFP | Combination picture shows hard-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon (L) and Socialist nominee Benoit Hamon

Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon and hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon failed to agree on an alliance in France’s upcoming presidential election, the two men indicated on Sunday.

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The absence of a deal between the two men appears to rule out the chances of any left-wing candidate reaching the runoff stage of the election, according to opinion polls.

A survey by the French firm Odoxa on Sunday showed Hamon and Mélenchon coming in fourth and fifth in the first round on April 23, with about 13 percent and 12 percent respectively.

Adding their scores would place a candidate in first or second place in a race that has been full of surprises.

Profile: Hamon's Brave new Socialism
Profile: Hamon's Brave new Socialism

Hamon, the standard-bearer of the ruling Socialists, and Mélenchon, met on Friday evening, but could not reach an agreement, Hamon told TF1 television on Sunday.

“Jean-Luc Mélenchon confirmed ... that he will be a candidate,” he said.

Mélenchon said in a statement that with 50 days to go before the first round, it was impossible for them to sort out some of the issues on which they disagreed – notably their stances on the European Union.

“I was not surprised that [Hamon] confirmed he would be a candidate and he was not surprised I was doing the same. We agreed on a code of mutual respect during the campaign,” Mélenchon added.

Mélenchon is already in a coalition with France’s Communist Party, while Hamon last week reached a deal with the Green Party.

Environmentalist candidate Yannick Jadot, pulled out of the race after securing guarantees from Hamon to move away from nuclear energy and the use of diesel fuel.

In a further blow to Hamon on Sunday, Christophe Caresche, head of the reformist branch of the Socialist party in the lower house of parliament, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper he would break ranks with the party and endorse independent candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Macron is seen beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the election on May 7, two opinion polls published over the weekend showed.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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