|Info||Marie-Ségolène Royal is a French politician. She is the President of the Poitou-Charentes region, a member of the National Assembly, and a prominent member of the Socialist Party. On 16 November 2006, Socialist Party members elected her as their candidate for the 2007 French presidential election. |
She is known for her admiration for some of Tony Blair's "Third Way" politics, for her controversial insistence on "law and order" issues and for her support of devolution and participatory democracy.
Royal was born in Ouakam, Dakar, Senegal on 22 September 1953, the daughter of Jacques Royal, a former artillery officer and aide to the mayor of Chamagne (Vosges), and of Hélène Dehaye. Royal's childhood played a role in shaping her values and resilience. Her parents had eight children in nine years. Her father was fond of saying "I have five children and three girls". A staunch Roman Catholic and military man, he could be considered abusive by most modern standards. Being female, the young Marie-Ségolène had to struggle with her father to continue her studies through high school, though she ultimately prevailed. Much to his surprise, she was admitted to Sciences Po. In 1972, at the age of 19, Ségolène sued her father because he refused to divorce her mother and pay alimony and child support to finance the children's education. She won the case shortly before Jacques Royal died of lung cancer in 1981.
Ségolène Royal is a graduate of the elite École nationale d'administration (ENA) along with much of France's political elite, and was in the same class as Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Since the late 1970s, Ségolène Royal has been the private-life partner of François Hollande, currently first secretary of the French Socialist Party, whom she met at ENA. The couple has four children. While not married, they are bound by the PACS (pacte civil de solidarité), which provides for a civil union between two adults.
She served as a judge (conseiller) of an administrative court, an assignment for low-ranking graduates, before she was noticed by President François Mitterrand's special adviser Jacques Attali and recruited in his staff in 1982. She held the junior rank of chargée de mission from 1982 to 1988.
She is a deputy in the National Assembly for the Deux-Sèvres département (1988-1992, 1993-1997, 2002-). Her candidacy was an example of the French political tradition of parachutage (parachuting), appointing promising Parisian political staffers as candidates in rural districts. However, hers was second rate: she was up against an entrenched UDF incumbent, and François Mitterrand is said to have told her: "You will not win, but you will next time." She did win against the odds, and remarked: "Pour un parachutage, l'atterrissage est réussi." ("As far as parachuting goes, the landing was a success").
Minister of Environment under Pierre Bérégovoy from 1992 to 1993, she failed to be elected mayor of Niort against the incumbent Socialist who ran as an Independent when she received the nomination. She first considered a run for President during the Socialist Party's primaries for the 1995 elections but decided against it because only heavyweights were running. When the Left won the 1997 legislative election, she stood for the presidency of the National Assembly; however, the party instead elected Laurent Fabius. In compensation, she was appointed to Lionel Jospin's government as Vice-Minister of Education, then as Vice-Minister of Family and Childhood from 2000 to 2002.
On 28 March 2004, she was elected president of the region Poitou-Charentes, notably defeating Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's protégée, Elizabeth Morin, in his home region. (She retains her National Assembly seat simultaneously.)
On 22 September 2005 Paris Match published an interview in which she declared that she was considering running for the presidency in 2007.
On 7 April 2006, Royal launched an Internet-led electoral campaign at Désirs d'avenir ("Desires of a future"), publishing the first of ten chapters of her political manifesto. The campaign — which allowed contributions by visitors in order to help "complete" the book — was designed to help Royal produce a document which was to be published in September 2006, two months before the Socialist Party elected her its presidential candidate.
By the beginning of September, her intentions had become quite clear. She has said that if she were a man the Socialist Party would already have rallied around her candidacy. Only widespread sexism in the party has prevented this, according to her statements in an interview published September 1. She announced an official team to promote her campaign on 30 August. A poll taken on August 29 and 30 showed that 47% of respondents preferred her as the Socialist Party candidate. Although this marked a slight decline from polls a week earlier she maintained a strong lead over all other candidates.
On 16 November 2006, Royal defeated Laurent Fabius and Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the French Socialist Party primary, becoming the party's candidate for the 2007 presidential election. She won in 101 of 104 of the Socialist Party's fédérations, losing only Haute-Corse, Mayotte and Seine-Maritime (the latter being the home region of Laurent Fabius).
Royal has been widely criticised for being stronger on rhetorics than policies, and being part of a trend in French politics to focus on the personality and lifestyles of politicians rather than their ideas. When in August 2006, a paparazzo took a photo of her wearing a bikini, she refrained from suing as was her right under French privacy laws. For the recent campaign for the Presidential nomination she changed from wearing dull clothing to stylish suits and reportedly had work done on her teeth.
She has also tended to campaign on family and other socially-oriented issues, rather than on economic or foreign policy issues. For instance, she has mounted campaigns against the exposure of children to violent television shows, including cartoons , and more generally has taken a stand on several issues regarding family values and the protection of children.