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28 February, 2017

French Socialist and Left Party candidates fail to reach deal

Melenchon 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.

French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon and Left Party candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon have failed to agree on a possible alliance in the upcoming presidential election, the two men indicated Sunday.

Their inability to reach a deal appeared to rule out any chance for the left to reach the runoff of the two-round April-May vote and goes against the wishes of 75,000 people who signed an online petition in favor of the alliance.

An Odoxa poll Sunday showed Hamon and Melenchon coming in fourth and fifth in the first round, with about 13 percent and 12 percent respectively. Another poll by Figaro/LCI showed both candidates with almost similar scores.

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

Melenchon 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, such as the European Union.

Melenchon was a Socialist leader for 32 years, until he founded the Left Party in 2008, criticizing the neoliberal turn of the Socialist Party.

However, Hamon represents the left wing of the Socialist Party — with a program more aligned with Melenchon's ideas than most Socialist leaders — and surprisingly won the Socialist primaries, therefore opening the door for a potential alliance.

Part of the socialist leadership has announced it would break ranks with the party and endorse independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, a private banker who implemented neoliberal policies, including a very contested labor reform, as the current Socialist government's economy minister.

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

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