Former economy minister Montebourg to stand in French Socialist primary

Socialist dissident and former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg is to stand in the ruling party's primary ahead of next year's presidential election. And he would win if he faced incumbent François Hollande in a deciding round, an opinion poll has shown.

Arnaud Montebourg speaks at a meeting earlier this year
Arnaud Montebourg speaks at a meeting earlier this year AFP/Philippe Desmazes

Montebourg, who resigned in protest at the government's policies in 2014, on Sunday announced his intention of standing in the Socialist primaries, which will take place on 22-29 January next year.

Declaring his opposition to taxing low incomes, he said he would defend Hollande's programme during the 2012 election campaign.

Montebourg sees himself as a defender of "economic patriotism" and was regarded as the left-wing candidat in the primaries before the last presidential election, coming in third behind Hollande and Martine Aubry.

Four left Socialist candidates

He will face three other candidates on the left of the party, former social economy minister Benoît Hamon, Senator Marie-Noëlle Lienemann and party executive member Gérard Filoche.

Green Party member François de Rugy has also declared he will stand, although his own party intends to stand its own candidate and has four members standing in its primary.

Hollande is to say whether he intends to stand again in December, although few commentators doubt that he will do so.

Poll shows Montebourg beating Hollande

An opinion poll carried out before Montebourg's official announcement showed he would beat Hollande if the primary went to a second round, by 52 percent to 48 percent, but lose to Prime Minister Manuel Valls, but 51 percent to 49 percent.Valls has not said he will stand.

Montebourg's successor at the economy ministry, Emmanuel Macron, has quit the government and launched his own party and would not take part in the Socialist primary if he decides to stand for the presidency.

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