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Newlook Royal facing oldstyle defeat
French Socialist Segolene Royal has unveiled a chic, dishevelled new look, but the surprise makeover is unlikely to prevent her from suffering a fresh election defeat.
Royal came second in last year’s presidential ballot behind Nicolas Sarkozy. Having lost the chance to run the country, she has now fixed her sights on running her party, with Socialist party members due to elect their new leader in November.
Looking to promote her cause, Royal staged a rally in Paris on Saturday night that was more like a rock concert than a political meeting.
She stunned the audience when she took the stage, with her laid back appearance. Gone were the neat hair-do and well-tailored suits of the presidential campaign. Instead there was a wavy, youthful hairstyle and flowing blue dress.
Gone also were the notes and slightly rigid manner that marked her performances on the 2007 campaign trail. Instead she spoke off the cuff, sashaying around the stage like an energised yoga teacher and cracking Woody Allen jokes.
It wasn’t to everyone’s taste. One disgruntled Socialist party heavyweight, Henri Emmanuelli, said the meeting was a cross between “show business and the gathering of a sect”.
And it almost certainly won’t be enough to put her in contention to grab control of her party, which is still traumatised by its failure to win power in 2007.
An opinion poll in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday showed she was lying third in the Socialist race, some 20 percentage points behind frontrunner Bertrand Delanoe, the dapper mayor of Paris.
However, a second successive election defeat is unlikely to deter the ferociously ambitious Royal who has her heart set on challenging Sarkozy at the 2012 presidential vote.
“I am here today, I will be here tomorrow. Nothing is going to make me turn back from the path that I have chosen and which we are walking on together,” she told her adoring fans.
The question is, will the path take her away from the Socialists and into a new political adventure?