French Socialists square up to Sarkozy

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French Socialists square up to Sarkozy

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Let battle commence – France’s Socialist party says it is ready to oust Nicolas Sarkozy now it has chosen its candidate for next year’s presidential election.

Francois Hollande won the party’s primary elections with more than 56 per cent of the vote against Martine Aubry in the second round.

In a show of party unity, those he had beaten joined him as he addressed the party faithful last night.

“Tomorrow we’ll be in the real battle, the democratic battle and then we will have only two opponents: the right and the far right,” he said.

And he called on party members to unite all those on the left to take the Socialists through to the second round of the presidential vote.

Analysts say the party has chosen a moderate, unifying candidate whose nicknames include Mr Normal and Mr Grey. However, his supporters say after five years of Sarkozy as president, that is just what the French are looking for.

If he wins, Hollande will become the first Socialist in the Elysee Palace since Francois Mitterand 17 years ago.

Although Sarkozy has not officially declared his candidature he is expected to run for a second term.