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Endings and fresh starts at meet-up

The Socialist summer conference was marked by the departure of leader Martine Aubry and the emergence of two candidates

THE Socialist Party université d’été (informal late summer conference), which has just finished, was marked by support for the government, the departure of its leader and the emergence of two candidates to take her place.

Outgoing leader Martine Aubry, who lost as Socialist presidential candidate to François Hollande, told party members: “Support for the president and government must be unswerving, but constructive.” She holds no ministerial post, having said it was ‘prime minister or nothing’, and Hollande having preferred Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Aubry, who is also mayor of Lille, thanked activists for their support in a speech on stepping down from her role. Key goals for the future should include “continuing with reflection, renovation and Europeanisation,” she said.

Two men are in the running to succeed her: MEP Harlem Désir, whose father is from Martinique and who made his name as a militant with SOS Racisme, and Paris MP Jean-Christophe Cambadélis (whose father is Greek). The party’s choice will be revealed on September 12, however National Assembly president Claude Bartolone has publically supported Cambadélis.

The question of the ratification of the European budget pact, which is on the cards, caused divisions, the left-wing of the party claiming it focuses too much on austerity measures and is still marked too strongly by Sarkozy and Merkel’s politics despite Hollande having negotiated an add-on about growth.

The absence of former leader Ségolène Royal was also felt – she had a legitimate reason, having chosen to attend instead the conference of the Socialist International, of which she is vice-president. However it may also have embarrassed her to attend due to the location of the conference – la Rochelle. She was recently beaten in the parliamentary elections there by a rebel candidate, Olivier Falorni, who was formerly a member of the Parti Socialiste but now sits as a non-specified left-wing MP after his stunt of opposing the official candidate.

Falorni caused media interest by walking around the prominent port area during the conference, while claiming “I’m just in my town’s port; I’m not trying to be provocative”.

Photo:Philippe J

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