Nov 27, 2008

World - France;Royal down,but not out

Vaiju Naravane

Paris: The glamorous and ambitious French politician, Segolene Royal, has had to finally concede defeat after the French Socialist Party’s National Commission declared her rival Martine Aubry had won the election to become the party’s general secretary.

It was a humiliating comedown for Ms. Royal who had alleged fraud and vote rigging in last Thursday’s vote by Socialist party card-holders. A special commission appointed to look into the charges not only refuted Ms. Royal’s claims, it also increased her rival’s winning margin from 42 to 102 votes.

The party’s leadership voted on Tuesday night by a wide margin to accept the victory of Ms. Aubry, who is credited with France’s 35-hour work-week and is considered more doctrinaire and hard-line leftist than Ms. Royal, who has called for electoral alliances with the centrists.

But Ms. Royal has been unable to accept her defeat with grace. In her blog, she hinted she would be a candidate for the 2012 presidential election. “I need you, I need your ideas because 2012 is soon, it’s tomorrow, it’s in three years and we need to start working on it now. See you soon!” a smiling Royal enthused in the video message recorded in her Paris office.

Taking a leaf out of U.S. President-elect Obama’s book, Ms. Royal recorded a message on You Tube. “I’m fighting on, more than ever. You can count on me, I’m going to be fully committed and the way things have turned out, I’m going to have the time,” she said.

Ms. Royal has been a polarising force in the Socialist Party. Many say she shook the ageing apple tree of the hundred year old party, forcing it to think of new strategies and approaches to politics. However, her personal ambition put off many senior party leaders. Michel Rocard, the former Prime Minister and one of the most respected Socialists, said he would leave the party if she won the leadership battle. “The Socialist Party needs intellectual leadership,” he said when asked why he was so dead set against Ms. Royal.

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