The question of who will succeed Martine Aubry as the leader of the Parti Socialiste (PS) is the one that is currently occupying all of its members. Aubry, the current First Secretary of the party, announced at the summer forum in La Rochelle that she would not apply for a second term.
So far, two candidates are favored: Harlem Désir, the second most important member of PS who covered for Martine Aubry during the Socialist primaries, and Jean Christophe Cambadelis, former associate of Dominique Strauss Khan. Both are at the center of the party’s ideological chessboard, a modern left and a liberal left.
The battle intensified this week. Many members of the government have voiced their support for Harlem Désir. On RTL radio, Manuel Valls, Minister of the Interior, said that Harlem Désir “is in the best position (because) he was number 2 and because he was responsible for the Parti Socialiste during the primaries.”
On France Info, Delphine Batho, the Ecology Minister, has also praised his ability to “bring people together.” While Harlem Désir has multiplied his greatly increased his presence, Jean Christophe Cambadelis is discretely campaigning to members of the PS and will also benefit from the support of Claude Bartelone, the President of the National Assembly.
Ultimately, it is Martine Aubry, along with the Prime Minister, who will decide her successor. At the upcoming PS congress in Toulouse on October 26, the party will decide on a platform.
While there are normally several different platforms, the general staff of the PS will present one platform that will aim to keep the PS unified, as it currently holds the majority in the French political system. Martine Aubry will announce Tuesday who will be the person to represent that platform, and the election over the platform and the candidate will be held in October.
According to predictions from observers Martin Aubry’s choice will most likely be Jean Christophe Cambadelis, but doubts still remain about her real intentions, particularly because those close to François Hollande do not want to offend Aubry.
This method of choosing the party leader receives criticism from both sides. Monday on BFMTV, Harlem Désir, who has a reputation of being close to activists, demanded an open vote. “I want there to be an open vote because the legitimacy of the future First Secretary must come from the gathering of socialists who will express themselves in a democratic vote.”
Similarly, on France Inter, Gaetan Gorce, elected socialist in Nièvre, protested against the process that combines “the best of the Vatican and the Kremlin.” The impenetrability of the system of motions and the selection of the person who will assist the government throughout Hollande’s presidency risks reviving “the feuds of leaders.”
The real issue, as it often is in the Socialist Party, is to handle the political sensibilities together with the egos of the political leaders. For Hollande-ists, Aubry-ists, reformists, or the extreme left, this is the opportunity for everyone in office to be decisive, more than it is about the name of the future PS leader. Aubry should announce her decision after consulting with Jean-Marc Ayrault on September 12.
Note: on September 12th, after several days of talks with the other leaders of the party, Martine Aubry chose Harlem Désir as her successor to lead the Socialist Party. The latter will then become the First Secretary of the party.