French Socialists in disarray after leadership vote

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French Socialists in disarray after leadership vote

Supporters of Segolene Royal accused opponents within France's Socialist party
of fixing a bitterly contested leadership vote and demanded a re-run, plunging
the leftist opposition into crisis on Saturday.

Socialist officials said Martine Aubry...defeated her arch rival Royal by just 0.04
percentage points, or 42 votes, in Friday's ballot of the party's 233,000

Ms. Royal's camp refused to accept the leadership result
and urged Socialist members to rise up against the party hierarchy, which had
openly backed Ms. Aubry's candidacy.

“There was fraud, there was cheating, there is deep
doubt about last night's result,” parliamentarian Manuel Valls said.

“I call for the membership to rebel...our supporters
cannot put up with this any more. The only way out of it is to hold a second
vote,” he told TF1 television.

Senior leftist figures urged restraint, fearing the
ballot could tear apart the Socialist party, which was re-founded by former
President Francois Mitterrand in 1971 but has been riven by deep divisions for

"Ms. Aubry had promised to anchor the party firmly to the
left and drew together a disparate alliance of Socialist veterans to try to
derail Ms. Royal, who has solid grassroots support."


Wilf Day

Recount raises margin to 102:

Ms Royal, the Socialist flag- bearer in last year's presidential election, has refused to recognise the result of Friday's poll of the party's 233,000 members after Ms Aubry was named victor by just 42 votes.

A Socialist commission was set up to look into allegations made by the Royal camp of vote rigging and irregularities, but after two days of work it announced that Ms Aubry had actually beaten Ms Royal by 102 votes.

Some Socialists have warned that the party might break into two because of the row, which is based as much on personal loathing as ideological differences, but Ms Royal herself said at the weekend she had no intention of abandoning the leftist ship.