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Socialists in France have chosen former junior minister Benoit Hamon as their candidate for president, in a victory that analysts say is not likely to boost his election chances when French voters begin first-round balloting for a new president in April.

With 60 percent of votes tallied in Sunday’s Socialist primary, Hamon was holding near 59 percent of the vote, while rival Manuel Valls, a former prime minister, was winning 41 percent. A short while later, Valls conceded defeat.

Analysts give the Socialist party, weakened and divided by the widely unpopular presidency of Francois Hollande, little or no chance of moving past the first round of voting April 23. If no one wins 50 percent of that vote, the two top vote getters will face off for the presidency May 7.

Early polls shows Hamon trailing four others in opinion polls.

The Hamon candidacy and the apparent lack of enthusiasm for his party are expected to boost the chances of independent centrist Emmanuel Macron in a faceoff with leading rivals on the right and far-right.

Opinion polls show those rivals — Conservative Francois Fillon, the Republican candidate, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen — headed for a likely showdown in the May 7 election.


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