Beleaguered Socialist Party to decide on future direction
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Supporters of the main opposition party, the Socialist Party (PS), are set to vote on six "lists" of candidates who'll make up their new leadership and attend the congress in Reims from November 14-16.
The shape of French politics is set for a shake-up. Supporters of the main opposition party, the Socialist Party, are set to vote on lists of candidates who'll make up their new leadership.
Over 3,000 active party members will choose one of six "teams" to attend the congress in Reims from November 14-16. The party secretary will then be chosen via a direct election on November 20.
The Socialist Party controls most regional governments in France and has strong grass-roots support, but has been criticised at national level as not being a formidable adversary to President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Officially, party members will decide between different lists of candidates, not individual candidates. But all eyes are on the big hitters on each list - the person who could become the Socialsts' new leader.
The main contenders include the Mayor of Paris, Bertand Delanoe. He's the favourite for the leadership, as he attracts considerable public support.
Then there's Segolene Royal, the former PS presidential candidate who lost to Nicolas Sarkozy last year. She's one of the best known figures in the Socialist Party.
Also in the running is Martine Aubry, the woman behind France's famous 35-hour working week.
Despite strong grassroots support throughout France, the Socialists don't pack much political punch at national level. The top of the party has been dogged by bitter in-fighting. If the Socialists wish to continue as France's main opposition group, the new leader needs to find a voice for the party, and be a realistic presidential contender in 2012.
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