9 candidates bidding for Socialist primary in France

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.