Hollande secures fourth turn as Socialist chief

25th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - France's opposition Socialists have re-elected François Hollande -- the only candidate in the running -- as their leader, the party's national electoral chief Bruno Le Roux said on Friday.

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - France's opposition Socialists have re-elected François Hollande -- the only candidate in the running -- as their leader, the party's national electoral chief Bruno Le Roux said on Friday.

The election came days after a congress at which the party patched up months of bitter division.

The Socialists' first secretary since 1997, it is Hollande's fourth two-year mandate, and he has said that it will be his last.

Hollande was credited with rallying the party's different currents behind a common manifesto at the congress last weekend, restoring its credentials as a serious contender ahead of 2007 legislative and presidential elections.

The congress was seen as a possible turning point for the party. It had been bitterly split since voters' rejection in May of a referendum on adopting a European constitution, which several breakaway factions helped to defeat in defiance of the party line.

Both main splinter movements -- followers of former prime minister Laurent Fabius and a group called the New Socialist Party -- agreed to bury their differences and join forces with Hollande at the congress.

Bitter arguments remain ahead, however, notably over the party's nomination for the 2007 presidential race, with half a dozen potential candidates in the running, including Hollande himself.

The Socialists governed France from 1997 to 2002 under prime minister Lionel Jospin, but lost power after a presidential election in which Jospin was humiliatingly beaten into third place by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The party has since struggled to find a coherent voice -- torn between the supporters of an accommodation with free-market capitalism, and advocates of a clean break.

Some 127,000 card-carrying members were called upon to elect the first secretary. Le Roux said final turnout and voting figures were not yet available.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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