- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 19, 2006

PARIS — The Socialist politician hoping to become France’s first woman president faced a wave of attacks by party rivals last week as they sought to curb her success as the darling of leftist voters.

Leading French Socialists seized on Segolene Royal’s performance on the Middle East crisis to promote their “tout sauf Segolene” [“anyone but Segolene”] campaign.

Laurent Fabius, a former prime minister, and Jack Lang, former culture minister, mocked the idea floated by Miss Royal, 52, that international figures such as former President Bill Clinton should intervene in the French political spat.

Mr. Fabius said that in a world of terrorism, experience is “not necessarily a defect.”

Mr. Lang, a potential rival to Miss Royal for the Elysee Palace with Mr. Fabius, said: “Popularity and the capacity to create dynamics are criteria, but experience, competence and international moral authority count, too.”

Even Francois Hollande, secretary general of France’s Socialist Party and father of Miss Royal’s four children, has voiced misgivings about some of her pronouncements, especially her support for tough measures on crime.

Mr. Hollande may also seek the party’s nomination when the Socialists choose a presidential candidate in November.

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