Francois Hollande won France's Socialist Party nomination on Sunday, positioning him to run against Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election.
I note this evening's result with pride and responsibility, said Hollande. I want to revive the French dream.
Hollande will attempt to be France's first left-wing president since François Mitterrand left office in 1995. Seen as one of the most center-leaning members of his party, Holland will have a fighting chance against Sarkozy, whose approval ratings have fluctuated between 30 and 60 percent since April, according to the Los Angeles Times.
I need a Socialist Party that shows solidarity. I want to be the candidate for respect, for dialogue, for democracy. The right has nothing else to lose except what it values most ... power, he said. I cannot fight alone. I need unity, I need us to gather together, I need a solid party. I am a man of unity and I have shown this.
Creating this unity will be an enormous task for the man known as Monsieur Normal and L'Homme Tranquille (The Quiet Man), some analysts claim.
François Hollande's woes are just beginning, reported conservative French daily Le Figaro, claiming that Hollande will have to coalesce all those left currents that expressed themselves during the primary... the 'hard left' of Martine Aubry; Arnaud Montebourg's (member of the National Assembly of France) anti-globalisation stance; the assertive left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (founder of the Left Party), without forgetting the anti-nuclear left led by Eva Joly (of the French Green Party); and last, but not least, the 'soft left,' that is his version.
Earlier this year, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was considered to be the frontrunner for the Socialist Party nomination, but a rape charge in New York and subsequent trial summarily erased his aspirations. Despite sexual abuse charges in both the United States and France being dropped, Strauss-Kahn's political career has been stalled indefinitely.
Strauss-Kahn is the former head of the International Monetary Fund and his background as a prominent economist and lawyer would have made him a viable option for a France struggling economically along with the rest of Europe.
During his first televised interview after returning to France, Strauss-Kahn confirmed that he had planned to run for office, and added that he had made a pact with prominent fellow Socialist Party member Martine Aubry. The two agreed that whoever was best suited to run during the October primaries would do so.
Before the nomination Sunday, Aubry was one of two Socialist frontrunners along with François Hollande.
After the interview, some critics felt that Strauss-Kahn's pact comments irrecoverably damaged the Socialist party in general and Aubry in particular.
“Do I look like a substitution candidate? Aubry told France's Canal Plus TV. The problem was to know who would be a candidate and who was best placed. The decision hadn’t been made [when Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested] and when the time came, I made my decision and announced mine.
I am the candidate France needs,” she added.
Nonetheless, Hollande is considered by many to be the better choice for his broad appeal, and he is seen as someone more capable of related to the center than Aubry.