The losing candidate in last year’s French presidential election, Ségolène Royal, has launched her bid for the leadership of the Socialist Party.
Despite a low profile since her defeat to Nicolas Sarkozy, many Royal supporters remain loyal supporters. “She’s the best candidate because there would not have been this mobilisation in France without her,” said one Royalist. “She’s our Sarkozy, our bulldozer, our ram who can batter the party old guard into retirement,” said another.
The Socialists have watched on as Sarkozy’s reforms, rhetoric and even his romantic life have dominated headlines. He remains very much the man the left loves to hate. “We need the left to call an end to the grip held on France by Sarkozy’s clan and we need the left to move France up a gear, that’s the pledge I make today,” Royal told supporters at a party rally in Paris.
Among Royal’s main rivals for the party leadership is recently re-elected Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe. His more economically liberal leanings appeal to party modernisers. Representing the more traditional left is Martine Aubry, current Mayor of Lille and daughter of former European Commission President Jacques Delors.