Socialist leader 'rigged internal party poll', book claims

The new leader of the French Socialist Party Martine Aubry rigged the election that saw her defeat rival and former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, a recently published book claims.


AFP - Supporters of Martine Aubry rigged the vote that saw her defeat former presidential candidate Segolene Royal in the race to lead the French Socialist Party, a new book alleged Wednesday.

Aubry won the November 2008 internal party poll by only 102 votes, and authors Antonin Andre et Karim Rissouli claim they have proof that her team stuffed ballot boxes and forged result slips to the tune of 1,000 votes.

Francois Lamy, an Aubry adviser and Socialist lawmaker, dismissed the pair's book -- entitled "Hold-ups, cons and betrayals" -- as "without interest" and a "cut and paste job of things already said and written".

But Royal appeared to be ready to use the claims to revive her own complaints about the election, promising that she would make a "solemn declaration" on the scandal in the coming days.

"I felt a shock when I thought of the thousands of party members who saw their votes stolen. We knew there was cheating, but not on this scale and with this level of organisation," Royal said on France 2 television.

Extracts from the book published on the website of the news weekly Le Point recount in detail how on the night of the second round of voting a senior Aubry aide called a local party secretary to order him to rig the contest.

"The gloves are coming off. Stuff the ballot boxes," he said, according to the authors' account.

Royal was defeated by Nicolas Sarkozy in France's 2007 presidential election, after which her Socialist Party fell into bitter infighting. The opposition still trails Sarkozy's right-wing administration in the polls.

Aubry was the choice of the party's old guard to take over the party last year, but Royal has retained the loyalty of many younger activists and still hopes to lead the left into the 2012 election.

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