French Socialist leader to run for president

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The leader of France's opposition Socialist Party, Martine Aubry, will formally announce Tuesday she will run in a primary to choose the party's candidate for next year's presidential vote, her office said.

If the 60-year-old party general secretary wins October's open primary she will face incumbent centre-right leader President Nicolas Sarkozy next April in the race for one of the most powerful executive positions in Europe.

Before then she will have to convince left-leaning voters to back her against a crowded field of Socialist hopefuls, although she starts this race joint favourite alongside former general secretary Francois Hollande.

Recent opinion polls suggest that either Hollande or Aubry could comfortably beat Sarkozy in the first round of voting, and would then have to reach out to centrist voters to guarantee victory in the second-round run-off.

Aubry's office said she would launch her campaign with a speech on Tuesday at 0930 GMT at a cultural centre in her hometown of Lille, to be broadcast live on her new website

The mayor of Lille and the daughter of former European Commission president Jacques Delors, Aubry is best known as the minister who passed a law reducing the working week to 35 hours under a previous Socialist government.

Sarkozy has yet to formally confirm that he will run for re-election, but he has already adopted a campaign-style schedule of regional visits and on Monday gave a major press conference to defend his economic record.

© 2011 AFP

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