France's Royal says she will not run against top Socialists
France's ex-presidential candidate Segolene Royal said Thursday she will not run again for the presidency if two other prominent Socialists decide to seek the party nomination for 2012.
"I will not be a candidate against any of the two major leaders of the Socialist Party," said Royal in an interview to BFM radio.
"I will not run against Martine Aubry or Dominique Strauss-Kahn," she said.
Aubry, currently at the helm of France's main opposition party , and IMF chief Strauss-Kahn, are leading in the polls as the most favored Socialist candidates to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 vote.
Royal won the Socialist nomination against Strauss-Kahn and other heavyweights for the 2007 election, but came under heavy criticism for losing to Sarkozy.
Sarkozy won a resounding 53 percent of the vote in the May 2007 run-off against Royal, whose bid to become France's first female president collapsed amid party bickering, defections and a string of blunders.
With Sarkozy taking a beating in public opinion polls, the Socialists have vowed to come together this time and wage a strong campaign against the right-wing incumbent.
Royal suggested that her candidacy would play in the hands of the right, who are betting that the Socialists' campaign will once again implode amid party squabbling.
"The right is hoping for a battle against two women, but they are wrong," she said.
"I will not be a candidate against Marine Aubry if she decides to run. I will offer her my support."
But she added that "if the Socialist Party decides to rally around me, I will do my best."
The 56-year-old politician remains popular among centrists in the party but she is widely seen as having been sidelined when she failed to win the party leadership at a congress in late 2008.
"What's really important," said Royal, "is to rid France of this Sarkozy regime that has caused so much damage."
The Socialists, who have been eyeing a return to power since the late Francois Mitterrand left the Elysee palace in 1995, are set to hold a US-style primary election next year, open to all French voters, to choose a candidate.
© 2010 AFP