Global Market Data
Global News Journal
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Front Row Washington
The Great Debate
Personal Finance Video
Life & Culture
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Full Article
Secret panel can put Americans on "kill list'
05 Oct 2011
Obama chides banks, taps anger over Wall Street
Knox trial judge says she may be guilty but no proof
Ridiculed crystal work wins Nobel for Israeli
World mourns Steve Jobs
Exclusive: Democrats push tax hikes first in deficit talks
About 400 arrested in Wall Street protest
Secret panel can put Americans on ”kill list’
Apple's Steve Jobs dead at 56
Wed, Oct 5 2011
Wealth Summit: Edward Jones CEO boasts hiring to spur growth
Tue, Oct 4 2011
Japan tech show merges real, virtual
Tue, Oct 4 2011
French left milks novelty of presidential primary
Sarah Palin decides not to run in 2012
Romney under pressure to break from Republican pack
Wed, Oct 5 2011
Christie still undecided on White House run: source
Mon, Oct 3 2011
Analysis: Europe's leaders weakened when bold action needed
Mon, Oct 3 2011
French left seizes Senate majority, hurts Sarkozy
Sun, Sep 25 2011
Analysis & Opinion
Parity panic in the political press corps
Palin asks whether ‘title’ worth joining 2012 race
France's Socialist Party primary election candidates, from L-R, Jean-Michel Bayle, Martine Aubry, Manuel Valls, Francois Hollande, Arnaud Montebourg, and Segolene Royal, pose in the studios of BFM news television, after their final debate in Paris, October 5, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Fred Dufour/Pool
By Brian Love
Thu Oct 6, 2011 2:55pm EDT
PARIS (Reuters) - France's Socialists have the wind in their sails less than seven months from a presidential election, buoyed by the novelty of an American-style primary and the airtime access it is giving them.
The presidential favorite is a Socialist, but there is more to it than opinion polls suggesting party veteran Francois Hollande -- still relatively unknown outside France -- would easily unseat the incumbent, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.
The country's first open-door primary is a Socialist innovation, inspired by the momentum that got Barack Obama into the White House, and conservative rivals are watching with mounting envy as millions of French tune in to hear Socialists explain why they must vote for the left after five years of Sarkozy.
One of France's more obscure TV stations said on Thursday it had drawn a record high of nearly 3.7 million viewers the previous night for a live debate between six politicians seeking to run for president next April on a Socialist Party ticket.
The LCP channel, a narrow-focus broadcaster of parliamentary affairs, was one of many TV and radio stations that seized on the novelty of a primary to turn airwaves over to the main opposition party three times in as many weeks, for debates of more than two hours of prime time media exposure.
Some 5 million people watched the first such debate on France 2 state television in mid-September, while 3.5 million tuned in to a second one on i>tele.
The battle for the Socialist ticket has also generated heavy print coverage of the policy stances, stature and body language of the six candidates, reinforcing perceptions that conservatives are less present or have less to propose.
No wonder, skeptics say, that Hollande appears to be consolidating his opinion poll lead over Sarkozy and fellow left-wingers in the primary, where the first of two rounds of voting takes place on Sunday.
Beyond who ultimately wins -- the second runoff round is set for October 16 -- the primary itself is shaping up as a triumph for the Socialists, who hope that at least a million people will take part in a contest open to any voter who pays a euro and signs a document professing support for left-wing principles.
The Socialists have organized primaries in the past but they have been limited to party cardholders, whose number is estimated at around 200,000 at best.
If they muster a turnout of a million or more, analysts say, the Socialist presidential candidate stands to gain considerable legitimacy, as long the victory in the primary is clear-cut.
Either way, Sarkozy's UMP party, initially hostile, appears to be coming to the conclusion that they will one day have to take a leaf out of their opponents' book.
UMP party chief Jean-Francois Cope had sought to cast doubt on the motives behind the Socialist primary some months ago. But Prime Minister Francois Fillon paid tribute to it this week and said the UMP should aim to do likewise, not ahead of the 2012 election but for the following presidential battle in 2017.
Hollande, whose former partner Segolene Royal is also in the running but seen unlikely to win, savored the acknowledgment from Fillon.
"It's not because he's from the right that he cannot see the utility of something that comes from the left," Hollande said in response to Fillon's endorsement on Wednesday.
Others from the UMP camp are starting to sing the same tune.
"I've always been a supporter of the primary process, which makes room for more original candidacies," said Valerie Pecresse, a young budget minister and government spokeswoman who may herself be considering a shot for the presidency in 2017.
Right now, Sarkozy has yet to declare but is widely expected to seek a second term in next April's presidential election.
He may be looking for a way to respond to all the media attention given to his political opponents on the left.
Le Figaro, a newspaper close to Sarkozy and his party, says Sarkozy's communications advisers are worried that his penchant for addressing voters in speeches may mean his words have too short a shelf-life and that he is considering issuing a letter to France's 45 million voters in early 2012, a time when many believe he will announce his re-election goal.
(Writing by Brian Love; additional reporting by Patrick Vignal and Elizabeth Pineauy; Editing by Myra MacDonald)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Social Stream (What's this?)
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.