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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
French Socialist rivals line up
Segolene Royal
Ms Royal is seen by many as a breath of fresh air in French politics
Two rivals have emerged to challenge favourite Segolene Royal for nomination as the French Socialists' presidential candidate in next year's poll.

Ms Royal, 53, faces competition from former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, 60, and former Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57.

The deadline closed on Tuesday for candidates to submit their names.

Ms Royal has distanced herself from the party establishment, reaching out to voters with a slick media campaign.

'Gazelle' v 'elephants'

The BBC's Valerie Jones in Paris says Ms Royal has a style of communicating that appeals to the public and French media have nicknamed her "the gazelle", in contrast to the "elephants" - older male rivals in grey suits.

Critics say Ms Royal, a former environment minister, lacks political experience.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (left) and Laurent Fabius (AP pics)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn (left) and Laurent Fabius (AP pics)

In November, the 200,000 Socialist Party members will select a candidate to lead the left's fight to recapture the presidency next April.

Before then, the rivals will have joined battle in television debates.

A recent opinion poll suggests that Ms Royal is ahead of any of her potential rivals by at least 30 percentage points.

Our correspondent says Ms Royal's position seems to have been strengthened by the decision of the failed candidate during the 2002 poll, Lionel Jospin, not to stand again.

Former Culture Minister Jack Lang also dropped out of the race.

The eventual candidate is likely to face the current conservative Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, in the presidential poll. He is leader of the ruling UMP party.

France looks to Sarko-Sego race
11 Apr 06 |  Europe
Profile: Segolene Royal
18 Jan 06 |  Europe

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