Opponents to Ségolène Royal are pooling together to halt the former presidential candidate’s seemingly irresistible advance to the Socialist Party leadership. In the 14th district of Paris, the "All but Ségo" front is playing on friendly turf.
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On Thursday Nov.20, French Socialists gathered outside their party branch in the 14th district of Paris. Here, former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal registered her worst result in the French capital, despite a slight increase in voter turnout.
“About half the newcomers were two years behind with their membership dues,” explains the branch treasurer, Olivier Daronnat.
In order to take part in the vote, some have come along with a cheque worth 100 euros. For these occasional party supporters, the cost is well worth it – whether they intend to support Royal or bar her way to the party’s leadership.
“I was angry when Ségolène ran for the presidency. If she wins, I’ll quit the party,” says one voter. Arguing that Royal would be unable to unite the party behind her, another fears she would “lead the party to a major clash”.
Hostile turf for the former presidential candidate
This district of Paris is a stronghold of Benoit Hamon, the leader of the party’s leftwing. After coming third in the national vote, Hamon called on his supporters to back second-placed Martine Aubry, the mayor of Lille, who can therefore count on a fresh supply of votes.
Asked whether they would follow his voting instructions, Hamon supporters told FRANCE 24 they most certainly would.
One thing is certain: with Hamon out, the Socialist Party is about to elect its first female leader. Yet, the two remaining candidates could hardly be more different, or their supporters more opposed.
Yvette Roudy, a former minister for women’s rights and supporter of Ségolène Royal, explains why she wouldn’t be backing the mayor of Lille: “I fear a retreat of women’s rights if Aubry wins. Having worked with her, I know she doesn’t support women’s rights. She has long opposed efforts to raise awareness of contraception.”
In this branch, however, Royal attracts the greater share of hostility. When we asked this branch’s veteran advocate whether she would consider voting for the former presidential candidate should Hamon’s instructions lean that way, she drew back in shock.
In a few hours, these grassroots supporters will return for a close run-off vote; never in the party’s history, has the vote’s outcome been so hard to predict.
Date created : 2008-11-21