Former French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin’s tentative political comeback appears to be over. The Socialist retired from politics in 2002 after a humiliating defeat in the presidential election. But he had indicated he would be prepared to run again in next year’s vote, if his party wanted him as their candidate.
However, his offer to return did not arouse the level of enthusiasm he had hoped for. He now says that having failed to unite the party he took to power in 1997, he would avoid dividing it and would not be standing at all. His decision reduces slightly the wide field of candidates the troubled opposition has to choose from.
But he has made it clear he wont be throwing his support behind front-runner, Segolene Royal. She has angered Jospin by questioning the 35-hour-working-week. One the key measures passed during his premiership, it is proving highly unpopular in many quarters.
Royal has been criticised as a lightweight whose policies remain vague. But she has caught the public’s imagination and has a 30 to 40 point lead over rivals, including her partner and the father of her four children, Socialist Party leader, Francois Hollande.
She is also seen as a new face, compared to other potential rivals such as Laurent Fabius who was prime minister more than two decades ago. Other contenders include Dominique Strauss Khan and Jack Lang. The definitive list will be known by Tuesday, and the candidate will be elected by the party’s 200,000 members in November.