The French Socialist Party has chosen Segolene Royal as its candidate for next year’s presidential election. It means France could have its first female president in six months time. Many analysts are predicting a two-horse race between Royal and centre-right Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Recent opinion polls put the two neck-and-neck. Speaking in her constituency in Melle in western France, Royal thanked her supporters and spoke of her ‘intense happiness’ at the result. Some of her views, such as criticism of the 35-hour working week, have at times distanced her from the traditional Socialist core.
But, with just over 60 per cent of the votes cast by party members, she avoided a run-off vote which could have narrowed her chances. Although Royal has been a Minister for the Environment, Education and the Family, she had considerably less experience than her two rivals.
She beat former Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a self-styled Social Democrat reformer and also former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, defender of France’s ‘true left’.
In the race for the nomination, the 53-year old mother of four accused her two male rivals of making sexist comments. Fabius reportedly asked: ‘But who will look after the children?’ if she ran for president. It is something she now has the chance to do.