Hollande leads in French left-wing primary: partial results
Francois Hollande has a clear lead in the first round of the French left's presidential primary Sunday but not enough votes to avoid a second round run-off, according to partial results.
With around two thirds of votes counted, former Socialist leader Hollande had 40 percent, ahead of the creator of France's 35-hour work week Martine Aubry on 30 percent and anti-globalist Arnaud Montebourg on 17 percent.
Hollande's former partner, defeated 2007 Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royale, was trailing in fourth on around seven percent, ahead of free market pragmatist Manuel Valls, according to the Socialist Party website.
If no candidates wins more than 50 percent the top two -- probably Hollande and Aubry -- will compete in a run-off in a week's time to decide who faces right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in next April's presidential race.
Sunday's vote was the first time any French party had staged a US-style open primary, in which any elector who was prepared to pay a euro and endorse left-wing values could vote to choose the left's standard-bearer.
Socialist Party leaders have already declared the vote a victory, claiming that more than 1.5 million people and perhaps up to two million turned out to vote, kickstarting the left's campaign for the general election.
© 2011 AFP