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Race for new French Socialist chief heats up

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 Race for new French Socialist chief heats up
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The race for the leadership of France’s Socialist party is heating up, with the movement’s annual congress opening today.

Former Presidential candidate Segolene Royal is the favourite to win the job, above three other candidates.

The party is trying to revive itself after three consecutive presidential election defeats and in the face of the omnipresent conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.

Each candidate will be taking the chance at this weekend’s congress to try to shore up their support, spelling out their visions on how the party should be reformed.

Only one of the candidates is a relatively new face, and there is criticism from some in the party that none of the contenders has what it takes to take on Sarkozy and his UMP party.

Socialist members have the final vote on who should lead the party next Thursday.