Family fall-out worsens Socialists' election plight

12th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 12, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Party (PS) prospects of resisting a right-wing landslide in the National Assembly were dealt a new blow Tuesday by family feuding at the top between ex-presidential candidate Segolene Royal and her partner, party leader Francois Hollande.

PARIS, June 12, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Party (PS) prospects of resisting a right-wing landslide in the National Assembly were dealt a new blow Tuesday by family feuding at the top between ex-presidential candidate Segolene Royal and her partner, party leader Francois Hollande.

Once seen as the golden couple of the French left, the pair have been increasingly at odds since last month's presidential elections, which sparked bitter recriminations over blame for Royal's defeat by Nicolas Sarkozy.

Now the couple are in open disagreement over the tactics to adopt in order to avoid meltdown in next Sunday's second round of voting in the country's legislative elections.

While Royal supports a deal with the centrist Modem party of Francois Bayrou in order to limit damage from Sunday's disastrous first round of voting, Hollande made it clear Tuesday that he is against any election pact.

"She has a personal contact with Francois Bayrou, I don't," Hollande told Le Monde newspaper.

Dealing a severe blow to Royal, the Socialist Party's top decision-making body Tuesday voted to reject her strategy of an alliance with Bayrou's party, falling in line with Hollande.

"The National Bureau was unanimous on the question on relations with the Modem: we are not negotiating with them at a national level," said PS spokesman Benoit Hamon.

The Royal-Hollande disagreement -- conducted in public via separate pronouncements to the press -- symbolised the confusion at the top of the Socialist Party (PS), whose demoralised rank-and-file are increasingly angry at the lack of effective leadership.

"I am fed up with the way political life, and especially that of my own party, is revolving around the life of a couple," said Socialist deputy Manuel Valls.

PS First Secretary for 10 years, Hollande has said he will stand down by next year, and Royal is positioning herself to succeed him. However her pre-eminence is contested by senior figures on the right and left of the party, who believe she blew the presidential election.

In a scathing editorial, the left-leaning Le Monde described the Hollande-Royal partnership as a "Vaudeville act" and urged the party to hasten the process of internal reform.

"What we have is the depressing spectacle of a Socialist camp in total disorder, casting about for doctrine, strategy and leadership," Le Monde said.

The Socialist Party scored around 25 percent of the national vote in Sunday's first round, compared to 40 percent for the UMP. Projections for the final results suggest the UMP will get up to 501 seats in the 577-member Assembly -- giving Sarkozy an unambiguous mandate for his programme of reform.

The PS's best hope of saving seats is to win over the 7.6 percent of the electorate who chose Bayrou's Modem party in round one. However despite a telephone call from Royal, Bayrou said Tuesday that he will not issue any endorsement.

In the presidential election, Royal made a similar appeal to the centre between the first and second rounds -- provoking heated criticism from the left of the party.

The curious relationship at the top of the Socialists was in evidence on election night on Sunday, when first Hollande then Royal made separate official pronouncements from party headquarters in Paris.


COpyright AFP

Subject: French news

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