A glimmer of hope among French Socialists
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Martine Aubry’s leadership of France’s Socialist Party has been harshly contested after a trouncing in EU elections, but her popularity is rebounding after she called for US-style “primaries” ahead of France’s next presidential runoff.
"Hope is reborn! It's nice to see the Socialist Party getting back on its feet!” exclaims Marielle from northern France, Socialist Party chief Martine Aubry’s territory. The sun is shining over the Socialist Party’s annual summer gathering in the city of La Rochelle, and Marielle’s comrades nod in agreement between sips of beer.
On Friday, Aubry was warmly applauded during her opening speech at the event. She demanded clarity in the political platform of François Bayrou’s centrist MoDem party, which is being courted by both the political left and Right. She also called for the adoption of "open primaries", in the fashion of American political parties, to designate the opposition candidate for France’s 2012 presidential elections.
Aubry’s supporters are not letting the thorny issue of whether or not to form an alliance with the MoDem spoil their summer fun. "In Lille, Martine works with the elected centrists, and it works well!" insists Marielle. "This year, for once, we’re leaving the meeting with the desire to roll up your sleeves."
Because everything is not always rosy inside the Socialist’s tent, other members remain cautious. For now, the door has been left only slightly ajar to MoDem members and the details of these first-ever primaries must still be fixed.
Along La Rochelle’s port, a group of party card-holders discuss the primaries issue.
"The party has no chance of winning in 2012 if we go alone!”
“But just imagine if a MoDem candidate wins primaries!"
Twenty yards away, another group is also in a heated debate. In fact, it’s the same one. It seems much is yet to be discussed among the Socialist Party.
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