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French Socialists choose "Monsieur Normal" Francois Hollande to challenge Sarkozy

Francois Hollande has won the French Socialist party's U.S.-style primary race, becoming the candidate to face Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election.

Francois hollande 10 16 11Enlarge
Socialist candidate for the 2012 presidential elections, Francois Hollande, on his scooter on May 11, 2011 in Paris, France. (Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Francois Hollande has won the French Socialist party's U.S.-style primary race, becoming the candidate to face Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election.

The 57-year-old National Assembly deputy nicknamed "Monsieur Normal," according to the LA Times, won convincingly — 56 percent to 44 percent — in a runoff Sunday against Martine Aubry, a former Labor minister and the architect of the country's 35-hour working week.

Hollande managed to win the backing of the four defeated first-round candidates — including the defeated 2007 presidential candidate Segolene Royal, with whom he had four children.

(GlobalPost reports: Segolene Royal to back former partner in bid to beat Nicolas Sarkozy)

BBC commentator Hugh Schofield described him as "lucky," in that "the man tipped to win the Socialist primary — Dominique Strauss-Kahn — disqualified himself in a sexual escapade in a Manhattan hotel."

In a victory speech Sunday, Hollande — who has never held a national government post — said he would champion those who could "no longer bear" Sarkozy's policies, the BBC reports.

And according to opinion polls, he has a chance against Sarkozy, who has not formally declared his own bid.

Sarkozy, who won power in 2007 after 12 years of fellow conservative Jacques Chirac, is deeply unpopular, the LA Times reports.

Although his approval rating has improved from a low of 30% in April, a recent survey showed 63% did not approve of his performance.

His high-profile role in helping to oust longtime Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi has reportedly buoyed his ratings, however.

France 24 reports:

Hollande, who rides a scooter to work, has cut a down-to-earth and upbeat figure on the campaign trail. The Socialist candidate has pledged to be a "normal" president, in contrast to the flashy, impulsive style that rapidly earned Sarkozy the name "President Bling Bling" after he won power in 2007.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/111016/france-muammar-al-gaddafi-nicolas-sarkozy-francois-hollande