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French Socialists pick presidential candidate

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French Socialists pick presidential candidate

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It is decision day for France’s Socialists as they select the man – or woman – who will represent the party in next year’s presidential election. Today’s US-style primary comes at the end of a campaign that has seen three challengers vying for the privilege. Widely tipped to win is Segolene Royale, who is bidding to become the first female French president. Slammed by critics as a populist lacking in policy ideas, her style is welcomed as refreshing by supporters.

Opinion polls put Royale way ahead of Laurent Fabius but the ex prime minister, who has reinvented himself as a leftist, predicts she will be forced into a second round. That is a view also held by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister and self-styled Social Democrat who, like Fabius, has emphasised his far greater experience of national government.

While voting on home soil starts later today, some French Socialists living abroad have already cast their ballots. Analysts say the result is far from clear as pollsters have so far quizzed only “Socialist sympathizers” and not the party’s 219,000 members.