PS holds post-mortem on lost elections

23rd June 2007, Comments 0 comments

Socialist Party holds post-mortem on lost elections

Socialist Party holds post-mortem on lost elections

PARIS, June 23, 2007 (AFP) - Leaders of France's Socialist Party gather in Paris Saturday to carry out a post-mortem of the presidential and parliamentary elections that ushered President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing camp to power, but the losing presidential candidate won't be there.

As it heads into five years in opposition, the party is unanimous on the need for reform, but deeply divided over the reasons for the defeat of its presidential candidate Segolene Royal and what path to choose now.

Sources close to Royal said she would be absent from Saturday's meeting, carrying out duties in the Poitou-Charentes region of southwest France which she heads.

Royal, whose break-up with her partner of 30 years, party leader Francois Hollande, made headlines this week, has launched an aggressive bid to take over his job when he steps down next year.

She has called for the party to "quickly consult" party members -- among whom she enjoys broad support -- on the need for renovation and reform. Some of her supporters are calling for Hollande to step down ahead of time.

The Socialist Party's 300-member national council hopes to settle the matter on Saturday by voting on a timeline for electing a new party leadership and the key themes of the process of renovation.

Convinced she holds the key to the left's renovation, Royal confirmed on Friday that she plans to run again for head of state in five years' time.

She hopes to seize control of the party well ahead of time to prepare her programme for 2012, in the same way that Sarkozy used his position as president of the right-wing UMP party to impose his presidential bid.

But in the short term the party appears headed for a bitter leadership battle.

Although popular with the party rank-and-file, Royal's authority is contested by party heavyeights including the social-democrat Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the leftist former prime minister Laurent Fabius.

Royal kicked up a storm this week by disowning key parts of her presidential platform -- the extension of the 35-hour week and a big hike in the minimum wage -- as unrealistic, saying they were imposed on her by the party old guard.

She was savaged for her comments, attacked as "duplicitous",  "provocative", "deceitful" and "clumsy," and accused of trying to shift blame for her failed presidential bid onto others.

Party leaders will also be asked to decide on a strategy for future alliances -- with Royal and Strauss-Kahn favouring a tie-up with the centre, but Fabius intent on keeping the party anchored on the left.

A group of former Socialist government officials said Friday they were drawing up a manifesto designed to build a "modernising left" and block Sarkozy's strategy of recruiting left-wingers to his government.

In a column in Le Monde newspaper, they warned that the "current paralysis of the left is such that it runs the risk of seeing the centre taking over its themes of left-wing reform."

Copright AFP

Subject: French news

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