France’s Socialist party is choosing its presidential candidate today and next Sunday in an innovative vote open to all French electors.
Favourite François Hollande is unlikely to get the 50 percent plus needed for a first-round win, which pits six party big guns against each other, including Martine Aubry, the mayor of Lille and daughter of Jacques Delors, and Hollande’s former partner and mother of his four children Segolene Royale, who lost to Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.
The Socialists have been cheered by news that by mid-afternoon their target of one million people taking part had been reached with several hours to spare. This comes after the televised debates between the six scored surprisingly heavily on television ratings. A contribution of “at least” one euro and signing a charter saying you recognise “left wing values” is all anyone needs to do to take part.
In the past only party members could vote for a presidential candidate; at best some 200,000 out of a population of 63 million. A strong endorsement could give a Socialist candidate a big advantage in seven months time.