Europe

9 candidates bidding for Socialist primary in France

  • Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, now candidate for the socialist party primary election, gestures during the inauguration of his campaign headquarters, Wednesday Dec. 14, 2016, in Paris. Valls hopes to unite the Socialists under his banner and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee, in the most ambitious challenge of his political life after president Francois Hollande decided not to run for re-election next year. (Alain Jocard, Pool via AP)

    Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, now candidate for the socialist party primary election, gestures during the inauguration of his campaign headquarters, Wednesday Dec. 14, 2016, in Paris. Valls hopes to unite the Socialists under his banner and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee, in the most ambitious challenge of his political life after president Francois Hollande decided not to run for re-election next year. (Alain Jocard, Pool via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Leftist contender for the Socialist primary election Arnaud Montebourg, right, talks with a family coming from Iraq during a visit at a migrants camp built by Doctors Without Borders in Grande Synthe, outside Dunkirk, northern France, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

    Leftist contender for the Socialist primary election Arnaud Montebourg, right, talks with a family coming from Iraq during a visit at a migrants camp built by Doctors Without Borders in Grande Synthe, outside Dunkirk, northern France, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)  (The Associated Press)

  • HOLD FOR STORY SLUGGED FRANCE SOCIALIST PRIMARY BY SYLVIE CORBET - FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, outgoing Prime Minister Manuel Valls waits for Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve before the handover ceremony in Paris. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls is widely regarded as the front runner, but faces tough competition to become the Socialist Party candidate in next year's French presidential election. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

    HOLD FOR STORY SLUGGED FRANCE SOCIALIST PRIMARY BY SYLVIE CORBET - FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, outgoing Prime Minister Manuel Valls waits for Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve before the handover ceremony in Paris. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls is widely regarded as the front runner, but faces tough competition to become the Socialist Party candidate in next year's French presidential election. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)  (The Associated Press)

Nine competitors are bidding to be the Socialist Party's candidate in next year's French presidential election.

Among those who declared their candidacy by Thursday's deadline are former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is regarded as the front runner.

Valls resigned as prime minister earlier this month after announcing he would run to replace Francois Hollande, who won't seek a second term.

Valls hopes to unite France's Socialist party but faces tough competition from former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg and former Education Minister Benoit Hamon, party rebels who back more left-leaning policies.

Other candidates are Sylvia Pinel, Gerard Filoche, Vincent Peillon, Fabien Verdier, Jean-Luc Bennahmias and Francois de Rugy.

The primary will take place on Jan. 22-29 over two rounds.