Benoît Hamon is the 2017 Socialist Party (PS) presidential candidate. He represents the left-wing of the Party. He was endorsed as a presidential candidate following his victory in the centre-left open primary, which was contested by candidates representing several parties of the left-wing electoral alliance – “La Belle Alliance Populaire” or “The Great Popular Alliance”.
Yannick Jadot, the former presidential candidate of the Green party, has decided to join forces with Benoît Hamon and to withdraw his own candidacy to support him. As a consequence of this alliance, several of Hamon’s positions, especially regarding environmental issues, have been reinforced.
Says Hamon: “'We need to prevent the world from destroying itself'. I feel that this quotation from Albert Camus perfectly suits the situation in which we find ourselves today. Our world – once peaceful, prosperous and open – is falling apart because we have allowed arbitrariness, injustice, inequality and greed to govern it. So it is up to our new citizens, who don’t want their children to breathe the same contaminated air they breathe themselves, don’t want them to experience the violence of insecurity, or the threat of losing their place in society, don’t want them to succumb to another kind of violence – the violence of a society that segregates its people into castes, tribes, beliefs, ethnic groups… It is up to our new citizens to take these matters into their own hands.”
“What have we done with this world? This future world is in fact the one we already live in. I propose that we stop demolishing it, stop destroying it, and instead we rebuild it. I propose we safeguard its great natural balance, our survival and our health, I propose we change our development model, we change our economic model, because this one is unfair, dangerous and unable to provide the coming generations with concrete solutions. I propose we also rebuild our democracy here and in Europe so that each and every one of us, each and every one of you, plays a part in the decisions we take.”
Benoît Hamon does not want France to exit the European Union, but he does want to reform the EU in several key areas such as defence, the EU budget, the Common Agricultural Policy, and European culture. He says, “To save Europe, it urgently needs to be politicized.”
“The European project is collapsing as the inequalities between people and places at its heart grow ever greater and, let’s be honest, if they keep growing, the European project will be terminated by the will of its populations.”
Hamon criticizes, first and foremost, Europe’s economic and budgetary policies. He wants the debts of European countries to be cancelled and has always criticised the EU’s “politics of austerity”, especially towards Greece. “I will forge a political and societal interstate alliance to impose a moratorium on the Stability and Growth Pact and on the TSCG [Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance]. Austerity is ineffective and contributes to the rise of the debt.” He advocates for a social, fiscal and budgetary harmonisation which would “counter economic liberalism.”
Hamon takes a strong stand on environmental issues and wants the EU to play an important part in the ecological transition he calls for. He believes the EU can be “relaunched through an energy transition.” He intends to launch a “Major Ecology/Risk Prevention/Health Conference” where themes such as pesticide control and the use of endocrine disruptors (a group of chemicals that he wants to ban) would be debated. His energy transition involves an agricultural transition, which would require a new “Green Common Agricultural Policy.”
Benoît Hamon sees French Defence within the framework of the European Union and believes that the issue of defence in the European Union is crucial for its future. This is why he proposes that “the [EU’s] defence budget should be exempted from EU debt and deficit rules.”
“We will not regain our credibility if we fail to understand that the European Union’s future depends on its defence and security. At a time when the Americans will probably want Europe to foot more of the bill for its own defence as they turn towards Asia, at a time when Russia is increasingly assertive, we must ask how Europe proposes to defend itself and express itself more coherently.”
Hamon is also calling for a “proper European defence integration strategy” which would include increases in the EU’s own military staff and bi-national brigades.
Hamon proposes increasing France’s independent defence capability by “ensuring the continued existence of our nuclear deterrent in order to guarantee our sovereignty, our autonomy in decision-making and our freedom of action.” However, he insists that “if I become President of the Republic, French diplomacy will not be driven by the needs or demands of arms manufacturers.” He proposes to increase the Defence budget to 3% of GDP.
Immigration and the refugee crisis
Hamon states: “Today, France does not put enough money into United Nations programmes for them to work in war-torn countries.”
He sees the hosting of refugees as a European issue that ought to be addressed by the European Union. “I think we need to free ourselves from the Dublin Regulation and welcome more migrants.” “I believe we need to take responsibility when it comes to asylum and migration.”
“If I am elected President of the Republic, I will create a humanitarian visa so that refugees who have set out for Europe can do so legally and be welcomed there, can be looked after on European soil without being at the mercy of the people smugglers, and without the risk of travelling via illegal routes. I will challenge the Dublin Regulation which is stupid and unfair. I will allocate much more money into teaching French. And, after a certain time period, migrants will be able to work, and so integrate into French society.”
As a member of the French National Assembly, Benoît Hamon has been a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission, and has recently taken part in the writing of a report on the Middle East, specifically on Lebanon. This experience has shaped his stance on Middle Eastern issues.
Hamon has long been committed to the establishment and recognition of a Palestinian state and advocates it as part of his conception of the Middle East peace process. “I believe it is the Europeans’ historical responsibility, especially of the French towards the State of Israel, to make sure it is integrating peacefully in its neighbourhood. It cannot be peaceful if Israel feels threatened by its neighbours. For the process to be peaceful, the state of Palestine must be recognised, and I am committed to this outcome.”
Benoît Hamon sees al-Assad, Daesh and Putin as responsible for the Syrian crisis. He wants France to have a say in the negotiations and to help find a political settlement in Syria.
“We will need to be strong when the time comes to tell those who have perpetrated this massacre that they must answer for their actions at the International Criminal Court. Aleppo is an indicator of our impotence but also of the cynicism of the French political class. I refuse to grade the horror according to whether it is perpetrated by Daesh or by Bashar al-Assad.”
“It is a matter of urgency that these Syrian families who have been persecuted, who have had to leave their territories because of Bashar al-Assad or because of the Islamic State, be treated with dignity. We must set up a humanitarian emergency policy to increase the contributions of France and other European countries to these food and humanitarian programmes.”