French Socialist lawmaker Francois Hollande was crowned favourite for next year’s presidential election on Sunday, winning the left’s primary to choose a challenger for Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy, the right-wing incumbent, is all but certain to run for re-election, but recent opinion polls show him on course to lose, and Hollande’s victory will serve as a springboard for his challenge.
With most of an estimated 2.8 to three million votes counted, Hollande had an unassailable lead over Socialist leader Martine Aubry, who conceded.
“It’s a great victory for democracy,” Hollande said, hailing not only his own success, but his party’s in organising France’s first ever US-style open primary, which he hopes has given him a convincing mandate.
“I want to re-enchant the French dream,” he said. “France needs a programme that will bring it back to itself. I want to be the candidate of respect and of dialogue, who brings a new definition to the presidency.”
“Tonight, we rally behind our candidate,” Aubry declared, welcoming her erstwhile opponent to Socialist Party headquarters to celebrate his victory.
Segolene Royal, who is both Hollande’s former partner and the Socialist’s defeated candidate in the 2007 election, said the win was both an “undeniable advance” and showed supporters’ “very strong trust” in the victor.
Hollande had the backing of the four defeated first-round candidates and entered the run-off as favourite, but Aubry mounted a tough fight back, branding him a soft centrist without the steel to defeat Sarkozy.
Aubry, 61, the former labour minister who gave France its 35-hour working week, also attacked Hollande’s lack of executive experience.
But 57-year-old Hollande turned the attacks to his advantage, accusing Aubry of undermining party unity and suggesting his lack of a track record would make it easier for him to run as a candidate of change.
“I understand the scale of the task ahead of me, it is heavy and serious. I need to match the expectations of the French citizens who can no longer bear the policies of Nicolas Sarkozy,” he said.
Hollande promised to better regulate financial markets, fight unemployment and reduce the cost of health care and accommodation.
Sarkozy’s camp was wrong-footed by the primary. Some of his supporters grudgingly admitted it served as a good shop window for the Socialists, but the president himself dismissed it as alien to French political tradition.
The majority UMP mocked the left’s policy debate, portraying it as a throw-back to the 1980s, but televised confrontations drew large audiences.
The right had hoped the primary format would sow discord between the six hopefuls, triggering the infighting for which the Socialist Party is infamous.
In fact, the first round remained relatively civil, despite a history of personal animosity between the frontrunners.
Aubry succeeded Hollande as Socialist Party general secretary and has since let it be known that she found the organisation in a sorry state.
Hollande was the partner of fourth-placed challenger Royal for 30 years, raising four children with her. But he split from her secretly before her failed presidental run to move in with his girlfriend.
Despite the bad blood, the campaign only turned truly bitter in the closing straight, when Aubry attempted to close down Hollande’s narrow but consistent lead by tacking to the left and branding him weak.
Historically, both she and Hollande come from the party centre ground.
In 1995, when France’s last Socialist president Francois Mitterrand left office, they were both apostles of modernising former European Commission chairman Jacques Delors — Aubry is his daughter, Hollande his protege.
Even before the result was confirmed, Jean-Francois Cope, leader of Sarkozy’s UMP warned: “This evening we’ll have an opponent, and we’ll finally be able to demand some answers.”
Soccer star slams Trump for attacking her teammate: He hates women he ‘cannot control or grope’
On Wednesday, U.S. Women's Soccer champion Ali Krieger rebuked President Donald Trump for his attacks on her teammate Megan Rapinoe, saying that the president feels threatened by women that he "cannot control or grope":
In regards to the “President’s” tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by @mPinoe & will sit this one out as well. I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable.
Bernie Sanders: ‘I intend to be the Democratic nominee’
Bernie Sanders intends to be the 2020 Democratic nominee - and he's not planning to back down anytime soon. Not even with 23 other Democratic presidential hopefuls in the running alongside him.
MSNBC's Kasie Hunt spoke with Sanders for an interview prior to the first Democratic debate night where he plainly said, "I intend to be the Democratic nominee."
In the interview, Sanders also discussed his plan to end student loan debt and Medicare for all. But before that, he said there was another pressing issue.
"Our goal right now is to win it," Sanders said. "And by the way, as you you may know, poll after poll shows what against Trump? Shows me beating Trump by 8, 9 or 10 points. We're going to beat Trump, we're going to win the Democratic nomination."
Justice Department sues Omarosa Manigault Newman over financial disclosures
The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" who campaigned for President Donald Trump and later worked for him in the White House, alleging she failed to file a required public disclosure report after she left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, claims Manigault Newman "knowingly and willingly" failed to file the financial disclosure report after corresponding multiple times with attorneys for the White House. It accuses her of violating the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA) by not filing the report, which was required because her salary exceeded $124,406, despite several oral and written reminders from White House ethics lawyers.