Segolene Royal has led the Socialists back into the run-off vote; a relief after the party’s second-round absence five years ago. But with a five percent deficit to make up, she must reunite the left if she’s to go all the way.
“That process has already begun” she pointed out. “Certain candidates who won’t be in the second round have already put their support behind me. I’d like to thank them for that; it’s created momentum between the rounds. Now we have to work, confront issues. And since the French people have to compare two personalities, we need to look at what they both say, what they’ve done, who they are and what their characters say about each other.”With the far-left parties all having given their blessing to Royal, or at least having called for ‘anyone but Sarkozy’, the Socialist candidate has started nibbling into her rival’s lead.
What perhaps started as relief at avoiding another first-round exit, has turned to a real belief among some of the party’s members that their candidate can sweep to power. “Segolene Royal is going to be the first woman to be President of the French Republic.” insisted one supporter yesterday.
Opinion polls give Sarkozy a lead of eight percent in the run-off, making Royal the underdog. They say a week’s a long time in politics. Royal has two weeks to make herself heard.