The leader of the fractious French socialists Martine Aubry has pledged to rejuvenate and unite the divided party at its summer conference in La Rochelle.
Key to what she called an “A to Z renovation” would be American-style primaries to choose a candidate capable of challenging President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 election. Party members are eager for change. “It’s wrong for the party to have remained unchanged for more than 100 years. It makes my hair stand on end. We must agree on primaries, but it must be done tomorrow and we must ensure that the infighting stops once and for all,” said one socialist supporter. Announcing the launch of a consultation process to decide if the primaries should be open to everyone or just members of the Socialist Party, Aubry urged positive action. “I’m not interested in empty promises or grandiose statements. I do not like too much navel gazing, I like the collective. I discuss, I discuss, I debate with my colleagues to fight for a better tomorrow,” she said. Aubry has been facing mounting criticism from frustrated party members and a public that wants the socialists to stop squabbling and come up with new political and economic ideas.