The French Socialist Party has a new leader and a new crisis today. Martine Aubry, an old-guard ardent union supporter, and the architect of France’s controversial employment law, won a cliff hangar vote to take over the party, but by the very slimmest of margins.
Just 42 votes separated her and her rival, the former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, after 130,000 had been cast.
For the Royal camp the margin is too slim. Manuel Valls, a Royal supporter, said: “We will not let victory be stolen.”
All night there had been contradictory reports as to who had won the bitterly-fought contest. Eventually one side called it. Razzya Hammadi, an Aubry supporter, emerged to say: “It seems certain now that Martine Aubry will be the next First Secretary of the Socialist Party.”
The Royal camp went into urgent meetings in the early hours and emerged determined that the race was not over.
Segolene Royal’s lawyer, Jean-Pierre Mignard, said: “It’s impossible to be happy with this contested and contestable result. This is why Segolene Royal has proposed a revote.”
Outside the Socialist Party headquarters the cries were for unity in a party which has been, and remains, bitterly divided.