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French Socialists vote for new party leader

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French Socialists vote for new party leader


French socialists are voting for a new party leader, bringing a much drawn-out process to a close.

Segolene Royal is leading going into this final phase, after a vote on broad policies earlier this month. But it is no foregone conclusion. She is seen as a unifying force by some, a political lightweight by others.

Martine Aubry is her closest challenger. When the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, dropped out of the leadership contest, he gave his backing to the former minister. And on paper at least that could virtually land her the job. Aubry has asked Royal to work alongside her should she win, and has called for profound change in the party.

The third candidate in the frame is Benoit Hamon, who is younger, and on the party’s left-wing.

This vote is a measure of just how split the Socialists are – they are having to cast their ballots because the Party Congress failed to pick a leader earlier this week. If there is no outright winner the two front-runners go on to a second round decider.

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