French Socialist and hard-left candidates fail to reach alliance deal

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PARIS (Reuters) - French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon and hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon have failed to agree on a possible alliance in the upcoming presidential election, the two men indicated on Sunday.

Their inability to reach a deal appeared to rule out any chance for the left to reach the runoff of the two-round April-May vote.

An Odoxa poll on Sunday showed Hamon and Melenchon coming in fourth and fifth in the first round, with about 13 percent and 12 percent respectively. Another poll by Figaro/LCI showed both candidates with almost similar scores.

Hamon, the standard-bearer of the ruling Socialists, and Melenchon, met on Friday evening, but could not reach an agreement, Hamon told TF1 television on Sunday.

“Jean-Luc Melenchon confirmed ... that he will be a candidate,” he said.

Melenchon said in a statement that with 50 days to go before the first round, it was impossible for them to sort out some of the issues on which they disagreed.

In a further blow to Hamon on Sunday, Christophe Caresche, head of the reformist branch of the Socialist party in the lower house of parliament, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper he would break ranks with the party and endorse independent candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Macron is seen beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the election in May, the two opinion polls showed.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Michel Rose; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Tom Heneghan