Political warfare has broken out in France’s opposition Socialist Party after Martine Aubry’s razor-thin victory in a leadership election.
Amid accusations of vote rigging and fraud, supporters of her arch-rival Segolene Royal are crying foul.
“I understand the disappointment of Segolene Royal and those who voted for her,” Aubry said.
“The disappointment is all the greater when the result is so close. But I am telling them simply what I think, the issue is no longer about who won or lost. We will all have lost if we are not able to come together very quickly.”
Officials say Aubry defeated Royal by just 42 votes in Friday’s ballot.
With French media reporting that some votes may have been wrongly attributed to Aubry, the party will review all complaints on Monday before certifying the outcome.
Royal has demanded a re-run of the ballot.
“There are so many challenges and the difference in the result is so small that I think we both have the responsibility of asking activists to vote again,” she said.
“A vote which this time will be closely monitored and therefore not open to dispute.”
Political commentators warned that the feuding between the rival camps could derail the once-mighty Socialist Party. Refounded by the late President Francois Mitterrand in 1971, it has been riven by deep divisions over recent years.