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French Socialists Unite Behind Primary Victor Francois Hollande

The French Socialist Party emerged from the primary election process with minimal damage and appears on course to capture presidency.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 10/17/2011, 9:12 PM

Francois Hollande, now the official Socialist Party candidate in next year's French presidential elections has been targeted already from both directions. The current government claims that he has no experience for the job and indeed he has not held any serious elective office. From the far left he has been attacked as bargain basement left by Jean-Luc Melenchon an ex-Socialist and the standard bearer of the renewed Front of the Left. However let there be no mistake Holland is now the man to beat in the French presidential elections.

The primary system that the French Socialist Party instituted can this time be called an unqualified success. It provided a great deal of upside in terms of media attention and attracting voter participation. It produced very little downside as the participants were on their best behavior in an attempt not to spoil things for the main bout against  Nicolas Sarkozy.

Already after the first round, most of the defeated competitors including the left wing entrant Arnaud Montebourg and Hollande's ex and mother of his 4 children Segolene Royal endorsed Hollande. After the second round Martin Aubry appeared together with the victor to symbolize that the party was now united behind his candidacy.

Hollande announced that there would not be a dual headed campaign as his opponent was now resuming her post as secretary of the Socialist Party. He had full confidence that the party organization under her command would go all out in pursuing victory. Bertrand Delanoe the Mayor of Paris who had backed Aubry announced that the two teams would be fused.

Hollande the current favorite warned against complacency: We have two adversaries: The extreme right and the right," predicted the candidate who expects a bitter campaign in which the extreme right would attempt to use fear whereas the right "will always use the extortion regarding fear of change and worries over instability. It will induce people into thinking that we threaten economic and budgetary balance when it is precisely the right that has eroded them."

The last phrasing is intended to appeal to the center that did well in the first round of the presidential balloting in 2007 when Francois Bayrou headed the Democratic Movement.

It will be interesting to see how French Jewry reacts. In the 2007 election French Jews shifted to Sarkozy because they felt that the Socialists as well as former President Jacques Chirac had not combated anti-Semitism vigorously. Sarkozy's victory temporarily blunted the wave of migration to Israel. Now it may resume.