Struggling Royal finally unveils French vote plan

February 12, 2007, Monday/ 20:20:00
Lagging in the opinion polls, French Socialist candidate Segolene Royal faces the biggest test of her presidential campaign on Sunday, when she gives a speech to party faithful finally outlining her policy framework.Royal won her party's nomination last November and appeared on course to become France's first woman president, but in recent months has been tripped up by gaffes and lost the political initiative by refusing to detail her manifesto. Instead she initiated some 6,000 participative debates around the country, to listen to voters' concerns and hear their suggestions for a country that has lost both economic might and international muscle over the past decade. Royal says her listening phase is now over and Sunday's rally before some 8,000 party members in a Paris suburb is being presented as a turning point in her battle to win power. "This is a new phase," former Socialist prime minister Pierre Mauroy told Sunday's edition of Le Parisien daily. "We need to change the rhythm ... The time has come to respond to the great number of very harsh attacks launched by the right and some elements of the media."

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