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Thread: French Socialists facing a crossroads

  1. #1
    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    Default French Socialists facing a crossroads

    Associated Press Writer

    Mon Nov 13, 3:32 PM ET
    PARIS - France's Socialists are at a crossroads, with Thursday's party vote for a presidential candidate raising questions about whether the party that shaped today's welfare-heavy, worker-friendly French society can adapt to a globalizing world.

    The favorite, Segolene Royal, is a lawmaker whose unorthodox ideas including military supervision for troubled youth appeal to those looking for change, but alienate traditional leftists of the country's main opposition party.

    Gaining steadily is ex-Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a self-described social democrat with more presidential stature and pragmatic ideas but less popular appeal.

    Bringing up the rear is Laurent Fabius, a former prime minister who has staked out the left edge of the Socialist spectrum. He helped bring down the European constitution last year, a move that revived his flagging career but split his party and left the continent adrift.

    Most predict Royal will emerge victorious, despite her halting performance at six debates leading up to the vote. What is less clear is whether the party will rally behind her for April's contest with the leading candidate on the right, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

    "The battle of 2007 will be rough but beautiful," Royal said at one debate. "I don't fear it."

    A generation ago, Francois Mitterrand's Socialist Party steered France left while Margaret Thatcher's Britain turned right, and the differences remain palpable.

    Socialist ideals fill French school textbooks and underpin the 35-hour workweek, the strike-tolerant culture and the worker protections that unemployed college students took to the streets to defend this spring.

    But the once-dominant party has been out of the presidency since Mitterrand's departure 12 years ago, and in disarray since former party leader Lionel Jospin's humiliating third-place finish in 2002 presidential elections.

    "It's the last chance for this generation" of Socialists, said Pascal Renaudo, a former party member who lectures at a Paris university.

    He left the party because he said it had failed to offer solutions to France's problems, including corruption and the entrenched discrimination against minorities that helped fuel rioting in troubled suburbs last year.

    Voters like Renaudo highlight the risk the Socialists face of repeating 2002, when left-leaning voters abandoned Jospin for a smattering of smaller candidates, handing second place to the far right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

    The least politically experienced of the three potential Socialist leaders, Royal has struggled to articulate formulas for France's deficit and stumbled in questions about Iran's nuclear program, but she retains widespread appeal.

    "She has a unique card: She's a woman. She says, 'I am modern, I am new,'" said Dominique Moisi, a political analyst.

    Some say her ascent means France's politics are drifting toward the center. But despite professing some respect for British Prime Minister Tony Blair assailed by French leftists as too pro-market Royal also wants to tax businesses that shift jobs abroad and has suggested obligatory union membership.

    Polls show people like her because they think she understands the French better than any other politician regardless of whether she has specific policies to run the country.

    "She does politics differently. With her, I rediscovered hope," said Joelle, a supporter from the southern town of Ariege attending one of the debates and wearing a sticker saying "For us, it's her."

    Thursday's vote will be telling. Only the approximately 200,000 registered members of the Socialist Party are allowed to cast ballots. Experts say they may prove more left-leaning and less Royal-friendly than the population at large.

    No polls have been conducted recently of registered members. A poll released Sunday by the Ifop agency showed that 58 percent of those who "sympathize" with the Socialist Party would vote for Royal, against 32 percent for Strauss-Kahn and 9 percent for Fabius.

    Associated Press Writer Nathalie Schuck contributed to this report.

    Oops, I had meant to put this into World Events... Mods? Sorry bout that.
    Last edited by JamieElizabeth; November 14th, 2006 at 10:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    The French are simply confused since it has been a while since they have been militarily defeated and occupied and their natural born inclination to surrender to someone is being thwarted!
    Don't slap me, cause I'm not in the mood!

  3. #3
    Elite Member moomies's Avatar
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    pretending to be a lurker but I'm not quiet enough


    Paging Alice...

    If you think it's crazy, you ain't seen a thing. Just wait until we're goin down in flames.

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