Turnout in the first round of voting for the French Socialist presidential contender to take on Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 was bigger than expected , when the first open vote in modern French history allowed anyone on the electoral register to have a say. More than 1 million people voted and the party was hoping for 2 million. The Socialists' interim leader, Harlem Désir, deemed it a "huge success". The Socialist leadership hoped the primary race would help shake off their image as elitist, in-fighting and out of touch.The Socialists elitist, in-fighting and out of touch? Oh surely not.
The favourite seems to be François Hollande, closely challenged by Martine Aubry, the architect, as the Guardian reminds us, of the 35-hour week.
Ségolène Royal, who was defeated by Sarkozy in the last election, is running again, challenged by two outsiders: the young MP Arnaud Montebourg, who has been fighting a hard-left anti-globalisation ticket, and Manuel Valls, an MP and mayor in the Paris suburbs, considered to be on the right of the party. Jean-Michel Baylet, a senator and head of the small, moderate centre-left Radical Party of the Left is also standing.Second round is next week-end.