We should know by late on Thursday night whether Ségolène Royal has got the Socialist nomination for the French presidency. Party members are voting all day Thursday and the polls close at 22.00.
A few months ago Ségolène (everyone seems to call her by her first name now, like Oprah) was thought to have it in the bag. But she had a tough time in the candidates’ debates with Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Laurent Fabius, and the last time I checked with the FT’s Paris office, they were refusing to predict whether Ségolène would get the 50 per cent of votes she needs to clinch the nomination. If she falls short of the 50 per cent threshold, it goes to a run-off on November 23. And that would give the “anyone but Ségolène” camp a chance to rally against her – as well as puncturing her aura of invincibility.
It still seems hard to believe that the French Socialists would do something as stupid as rejecting the one candidate they have who seems to have a genuine chance of winning. Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be a particularly odd choice. Not that I have anything against him, I’ve met him a couple of times and I thought he was charming and clever. But he is also a Euro-fanatic – which would make him an odd choice given that France voted down the EU constitution only last year.