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 10/25/2006 : France’s Royal fights off populism charge

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France’s Royal fights off populism charge

Rival contenders for the opposition Socialist Party nomination in France’s presidential election faced off in the second of three televised debates, with front-runner Segolene Royal forced to fight off accusations of populism.

The 53-year-old Royal – who has challenged party orthodoxy with ideas such as boot-camps for young delinquents – rocked the boat again this week by suggesting that lawmakers should be made to appear before “citizens’ juries”.

Both her rivals, former finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57, and former prime minister Laurent Fabius, 60, launched straight into an attack on her latest proposal. Fabius warned against “embracing a kind of populism that is a breeding ground for the extreme-right,” arguing that “putting elected officials under surveillance would create a distance, a suspicion that they do not deserve”.

“If this debate enables us to get rid of a bad idea – then that is a good thing,” he concluded. Strauss-Kahn argued that tensions between such juries and France’s elected assemblies could be “very dangerous for democracy”.

Royal hit back by charging that her critics were “afraid of the people”, insisting that her proposal was a way to draw disillusioned voters back into the mainstream fold and fight off the far-right.

“I don’t want to experience a repeat of April 21,” she said, referring to far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen’s shock victory over the Socialist candidate in the first round of the 2002 presidential election.


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Source : http://www.lexpress.mu/display_article.php?news_id=74844

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