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Would-be leaders unveil manifestos for the Socialist Party

Latest update : 2008-09-24

Candidates to the leadership of France's bitterly divided Socialists presented their manifestos before a party committee Tuesday, with four platforms emerging as the most credible. A new leader will be elected at the party congress in November.

The probable candidates for the leadership of France's struggling Socialist opposition submitted their policy manifestos to the party on Tuesday.
  
The new leader will be elected at a party congress in November and will likely go on to stand as the main opposition challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy when he seeks re-election in 2012.
  
Candidates presented their platforms to a senior party committee, with each alloted 15 minutes to outline plans to revive the Socialists after their drubbing in the 2007 presidential election.
  
The party has fallen into infighting since that defeat, in which Socialist candidate Segolene Royal was undermined by a lack of support from heavyweights within her party's own ranks.
  
The Socialists have also failed to capitalise on Sarkozy's consistently low opinion ratings this year.
  
Royal is herself now a candidate to lead the party, but Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe has emerged as a frontrunner, while former minister of works Martine Aubry and leftist Euro-deputy Benoit Hamon also have support.
  
Technically the would-be leaders presented motions outlining policy options favoured by their factions of the party, but they are traditionally seen as campaign pitches ahead of November's leadership vote.
  
Just ahead of the meeting Delanoe received a boost when former minister Pierre Moscovici, once considered a possible candidate, threw his support behind the mayor's modernising "liberal and socialist" platform.
  
Despite the bitter infighting in the party's upper echelon, the left remains a force at grass-roots level, with the Socialists and their allies holding sway in 21 of France's 22 regional authorities.
  
The party made major gains in municipal elections in March, consolidating its hold on Paris, but has failed to gain any traction on the national stage, where Sarkozy's right-wing UMP still dominates.

Date created : 2008-09-23

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