The French Socialist Party is to opt for open primaries to select its candidate for the presidential election in 2012.
First Secretary Martine Aubrey, is expected to confirm the move to “reinvent democracy” as she calls it, at the party’s summer conference at La Rochelle in Brittany on Friday.
There were primaries in 2007 but they were only open to Socialist Party members. This time, although the details have not been finalised, several million people, loosely defined as “left leaning sympathisers” could be eligible to vote.
If this primary is open to the broad left, it is likely to create some interesting dynamics. Socialist ecologist Daniel Cohn Bendit, warned militants in the party: “If you want to remain divided you will be left behind, that’s for you to decide and if you take that route there will only be one winner in the 2012 election and that will be Sarkozy.”
The party is desperate to avoid becoming an irrelevance. Vincent Peillon, the Socialist Party’s European Deputy urged the party faithful:
“Let’s do it, let’s organise rallies all over France where everyone has equal rights and opportunities.”
Martine Aubry is the first woman to lead the French Socialist Party. She took over from Francois Hollande last year and was considered the best bet to end the infighting which has dogged the left since the mid 1990s.