French Socialist Olivier Faure set to become party leader
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Olivier Faure is all but guaranteed to become the struggling French Socialists’ new leader after his main rival abandoned his bid.
The 49-year-old lawmaker, who won nearly 50 percent of the votes in the first round of elections for the top job, should be designated as the Socialists’ new boss after rival Stéphane Le Foll announced his withdrawal Friday.
Le Foll, the runner-up in the first round, said that Faure “is destined to become the (party’s) first secretary.”
Party members still have to vote in a second round on March 29, when Faure will be unopposed.
The previously governing Socialists are in tatters after their candidate at the 2017 presidential election, Benoît Hamon, took only around 6 percent of the vote. They also lost badly in the subsequent parliamentary elections.
Following Le Foll’s announcement on Friday, Faure humbly told journalists that he will now “assess the road ahead", noting that his party now needs to “regain the confidence of our fellow citizens by proving that we’ve changed".
Faure, whose campaign centred on the Socialist Party’s “resurrection”, has in the past few years presented himself as someone who is open to compromise and has, as the party’s leader in the French parliament, often played a balancing act by keeping a both challenging and supportive stance vis-à-vis centre-right President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals.
In an interview with FRANCE 24 a week ahead of the first round in-party vote, Faure said that, “members want to find a sense of hope that allows them to say that this party, which has been at the origins for all of our social victories, all of our great public liberties, is not about to disappear as other parties that have dominated the left have in the past.”
As the likely future leader of the Socialists, Faure faces the challenge of trying to bring back the voters who in 2017 turned their back on the party in favour of Macron and far-right leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Despite its losses in last year’s presidential and legislative elections, the Socialists’ first-round election for a new party chief showed that it still enjoys widespread support, however, with a showing of more than 40,000 members.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)