Royal to shake up campaign team

19th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 18, 2007 (AFP) - French presidential candidate Segolene Royal said Sunday that she plans to shake up her campaign team as she battled to reverse an alarming slide in the polls.

PARIS, Feb 18, 2007 (AFP) - French presidential candidate Segolene Royal said Sunday that she plans to shake up her campaign team as she battled to reverse an alarming slide in the polls.

"The team needs to be strengthened and better structured," Royal told AFP, adding that she would announce the changes this week, probably on Thursday.

After entering the campaign in a strong position, Royal has been unable to halt a drop in the polls since rightwing rival Nicolas Sarkozy won the nomination of the governing party on January 14.

"She is coming undone," the popular Parisien newspaper wrote at the weekend after a CSA poll showed Sarkozy enjoying a 10-point lead, winning 55 percent of votes in a run-off compared to 45 percent for the Socialist candidate.

It was the 22nd consecutive poll to give Sarkozy the lead since mid-January.

Royal suffered her latest setback this week when her party's economic adviser Eric Besson quit in a row over the cost of her 100-point elections programme that she rolled out with great fanfare a week ago.

"I will announce a new organisation" of the campaign, said Royal.

"We must restore hierarchy, " she said, adding that there would be "more people in positions of responsability."

Royal, who wants to become France's first woman president, won the Socialist Party nomination in November, beating two party heavyweights after polls showed the 53-year-old mother of four to be the only candidate capable of winning against Sarkozy.

The graceful former adviser to president Francois Mitterrand was seen as the party's best hope after the humiliating defeat in the 2002 election of Socialist Lionel Jospin who failed to make it to the run-off against Jacques Chirac.

But there has been recurrent speculation in the press that the party never fully rallied around Royal, a former environment minister and junior minister for schools.

The chief architects of Royal's election campaign are Francois Rebsamen, the Socialist Party's number two, and Jean-Louis Bianco, a former minister and ex-general secretary to the French presidency under Mitterrand.

With nine weeks to go before the first round in April, Royal played down the poor poll ratings, saying :"We are still a long way from voting day."

"There has never been more people at our rallies," she said. The second round of voting is set for May 6.

A week after unveiling her platform, Royal faces another test when she appears on a nationwide television show Monday evening during which she will field questions from the audience for two hours.

Socialist Party spokesman Vincent Peillon said Royal will show that she is at ease talking with ordinary people during the programme called "I Have A Question to Ask You" and that she is looking forward to it.

The television appearance will be followed by a rally in the northwestern city of Rennes on Tuesday that will focus on jobs, an issue high on the minds of voters.

"The coming week will bring about adjustments and reorganisation," said Royal, adding that this would help her confront the "disproportionate means" that Sarkozy has at his disposal as interior minister.

"Everyone knows that there is a difference between the resources that I have and those of the interior minister," she added.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Presidential election

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