Would-be French presidential candidate and front-runner to represent the socialists in next year’s election – Ségolène Royal. It is day two of the party’s three-day summer conference and Royal is coming out fighting. Her male rivals may have attacked her for being inexperienced and even vacuous, but she has retaliated by rallying the faithful.
“France will stand tall again,” she said, “and it will walk straight, building day after day a more united society.” Around half-a-dozen left-wing heavyweights are competing for the chance to replace Jacques Chirac, including former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius. He said: “ We need a president who has experience and will innovate – and I’m that man”.
The socialist get-together is being held in La Rochelle and has taken on certain energy with the candidate hopefuls jostling for position. Despite a slim track-record, Royal remains in the lead. “What counts,” said one supporter, “is that at least someone from the left in the end wins the key to the presidential palace.”