As France's right-wing government grapples with cash scandals and sliding poll ratings, Martine Aubry and her French Socialist Party gather at their annual summer retreat feeling confident their exile from power is about to end soon.
France’s Socialist Party leaders are eagerly preparing for a new political season to get underway as the party meets for its annual summer retreat in the northern city of La Rochelle. For the first time in several years, the party is brimming with optimism. If the recent “Liberation” newspaper headline, “A Desire for the Left,” is any indication, the political ground should be well fertilized for a left-wing revival in France.
The Socialists appear eager to capitalize on what has been a dismal summer for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party. From the ongoing L’Oreal cash scandal to the killing of a French hostage at the hands of al Qaeda, one after another, Sarkozy and his ministers have been confronted with controversies that have had a considerable impact on their popularity. On Thursday, Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry slammed the government's controversial and highly-publicised crackdown on Roma migrants, lamenting France's "summer of shame".
France 24's Melissa Bell reports on the French Socialist Party from La Rochelle, France
Nor are the next few weeks likely to offer the government much respite, with trade unions preparing massive industrial action on September 7 to protest against plans to reform France's costly pension system.
The political horse race
While Strauss-Kahn leads the early presidential polls, he has not officially declared his candidacy for the 2012 vote. To date, only two of the Socialist Party’s less prominent figures, former party leader Francois Hollande and Évry mayor Manuel Valls, have announced their intention to run for the presidency. Most analysts expect the Party’s leading figures to reveal their presidential campaign plans sometime in the coming months.
Date created : 2010-08-27