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French Socialist party primaries - first round on Sunday

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Oct 7, 2011 in Politics
So the talking's over and the first round of voting is scheduled for this Sunday.
Yep, it's the French Socialist party primaries, open to anyone - as long as they're a French citizen of course - who's on the electoral register, willing to cough up €1 and sign a pledge "recognising the values of the Left".
Anyone interested in French politics will surely have found the three separate televised debates between the six candidates an interesting and possibly stimulating exercise; getting to know them, where they stand, what differentiates them from one another and so on.
What's more, they all managed to behave in a reasonable manner (for politicians) foregoing the backstabbing that was so prevalent in 2007 and appearing, on the surface at least, to be cordial.
Heck even the country's prime minister, François Fillon, seemed to have been impressed, maybe wishing that the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, had someone else to offer (namely himself) other than the incumbent.
Fillon certainly seems to think it's the way forward in future elections.
Anyway, here's a very short and totally unbiased (ha ha) rundown of the six contenders.
Who knows.
One of them might well be a name you'll have to learn to get to know after May 2012.
François Hollande - widely admired among journalists (oh well, that's all right then) and apparently bright with a great sense of humour. Did nothing for a decade as leader of the party - except help Lionel Jospin and (his then-partner) Ségolène Royal lose in their respective presidential campaigns. One factor in his favour - Fadela Amara is (or at least was) a fan.
Martine Aubry - along with Hollande is the other favourite to make it through to the second round run-off. Seen by some (many) as a stand-in for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Popular among party activists (apparently) although her election as leader was rather contested. Perhaps it's her destiny to fulfil what her father (Jacques Delors) ducked out of doing.
Manuel Valls - too young (48) born in Barcelona (Ahem, the French seem to have no problem with a foreign-born candidate) too Blairish probably but clearly gunning for the interior ministry should the Socialist party win next year's presidential elections.
Arnaud Montebourg - similarly too young (48) and too radical. Big on anti-globalisation, very principled but probably too far to the Left to have a mass appeal.
Jean-Michel Baylet - very pro-Europe, level-headed and seems to speak a lot of sense, but an outsider - so much so that the BBC doesn't even have a profile of him on its short description of the six-strong field.
Which leaves Ségolène Royal. Gotta love her. She's a political animal through and through and in touch with "the people" (well so she keeps insisting). Appears bonkers at times, but always, at entertaining. Maybe that's the best the French can wish or hope for from her.
The expected run-off on Sunday week will be between those finishing first and second this weekend.

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