Benoît Hamon and Manuel Valls during the debate before the second round of the primary to the left, on January 25, 2017. – Bertrand Guay/AP/SIPA
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The last debate of the primary on the left between Manuel Valls and Benoît Hamon has offered a clear opposition between two projects of society. But at what point did they talk to each at the heart of their(s) electorate(s) ? A professor of literature at Stanford and member of Cevipof, Sciences Po, researcher Cécile Alduy has released the January 19, What they say really (Threshold), sub-titled ” policies taken to the words “. She analysis for 20 Minutes the lexical field of the two contenders for the socialist nomination in this ultimate debate.

What have been the key words of the candidates ?

Everyone had a verb repeated as a fetish. Benoît Hamon spoke of” anticipating “, with a projection into the future : “I want to draw a future that is desirable “. On the other hand, Manuel Valls wanted to ” accompany “, it was in the vocabulary of pragmatism. There is, behind it two different attitudes vis-à-vis the function it is running. To one side lies a hope, an imagination of the French society where it should go ; on the other hand, a “vision of the manager, entered in the present moment, the word “credibility” back in the loop for Manuel Valls.

Benoît Hamon said he was closer to Jean-Luc Mélenchon during this debate. Do they have common points in terms of employees ?

there is not much overlap, because they do not speak any of the same way. Benoît Hamon is a very quiet, serene, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon is in emphasis. The second speaks of ” fear “,” anxiety”, “suffering” at work, then that Hamon deals with concrete situations without dramatizing. There are thematic and the about common, but not the same rhetoric. All three, Valls understood, which speak of the inequalities, discrimination, secularism is also (more to the socialist Party than in France insubordinate). They share a vocabulary of values, but the big difference is on the word ” people “. Mélenchon puts forward. This is why it is often said of him that he is ” populist “, that he built his speech on the opposition between the people and the elites. This is one of his key words, that can’t be found at all in the framework of thought of Benoît Hamon and Manuel Valls, who speak either ” French “, or to sp ecific categories such as “youth, “” the farmers “, ” the parents “. The people is not a category structuring in the mouth of two remaining candidates for the PS.

But it was well, at the semantic level, a debate on the left ?

Completely. Manuel Valls has repeated the phrase “the left” it is (the work/creation of value/etc). He hammered at the time, the word “left” and the values that accompany it. Hamon has always been part of this legacy, but Valls, on the evening of the first round, for example, used a vocabulary of the more politically connoted to the right formed around ” the authority “, ” security “, ” merit “, ” effort “. It has not put forward than usual these words. He had an attitude of regal on the issues of terrorism, quite calm, deliberate of course, but without dramatising the situation, and without making as much as before trial in lax to Benoît Hamon. He was in an attitude of dialogue rather than of head, which requires. The informal ” tu ” that is engaged between the two was more like a debate in a sub-section of the socialist Party, and was less in phase with the stature authoritarian which has been t he trademark of Manuel Valls.

Where was the fault line ?

Two left opposed for a century. We found this historic confrontation : the one that wants to be in government, the reformist, who is said to act on the real now, and another who’s wielding of the big ideas of humanity. The income that is “universal” Hamon, in its name, displays the measure as a great step forward in social progress. It covers measures of historical and very symbolic, since it proposes to change the actual report at work, while the left of Valls is part of the existing framework in order to correct, repair through it can have.

>> also read : VIDEO. The five differences between Benoît Hamon and Manuel Valls

What words were not used ?

We had not heard of the ” nation “, a word that is very important for Marine Le Pen and François Fillon, or the ” freedom “, linked to the projects liberal economically Emmanuel Macron, and the candidate The Republicans. The term is everywhere, but it has not been the issue, it was replaced by ” equality “. Immigration, a subject of the right, has not been addressed. The debate was really anchored in the themes and the vocabulary of the left, which was not won with the nomination of Manuel Valls.

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