Why French Socialists should go for Madame Royal

h_4_ill_693056_partis-ps-journees-49.jpg With the French presidential elections coming ever closer the French Socialists need to decide which candidate they see as best suited to challenge the ruling party UMP and their candidate (I think) Nicolas Sarkozy. With the program decided by the PS in november 2005 I would rather not have them to govern France; however that does not deter me here. 

Covential wisdom would say that the PS would have about three candidates for the post ... Francois Hollande, Laurent Fabius, or Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I say, and incidentally so do the polls, that the candidates above are not the ones to put your money on. Enter Segoléne Royal (rather crude Wikipedia entry!).

This week's edition of the Economist describes how Mme Royal just keeps on climbing towards the top. "But the more they write her off, the more her popularity grows."

What are her chances then to become her party's candidate ?

Well if you have yo trust the noted French blogger (at least in my book) Ceteris Paribus her chances are not very big. In a recent spell as a guest writer over at AFOE under the name Emmanuel he writes that: "To make a long story short : I just don’t believe that she has any chance of winning the party’s nomination." His argument is that in a process of selecting president candidates the parties will tend to go for the established forces in their ranks and admittedly Mme Royal is not yet there.

Doug Ireland (part of the AFOE crew as well) also has a very good article on Mme Royal and her accomplishments.

However, why do I think Royal would be the best pick for the PS?

Quite simply because her profile as a strong and capable woman might very well be what the PS needs to win. Look at Germany for instance; why did Merkel win? Well, surely not because she was a woman but it had an impact because that made her inherently different and showed that she would bring something new to the table. I am not arguing here that being a woman is a free ticket to the top office but many European countries most notable France, the UK, and also Germany before Merkel are suffering from what I call leadership inertia.

Now I am not suggesting that the UK will get a female PM and perhaps France won't get a female president either. My point is that when a country has had a leader for almost 10 years people inherently want something different. Admittedly, this also has a lot do to with the degree of conservatism in society and as such I see the fact that women actually are ascending to top political offices more often is a sign that society is moving ahead. Following this point is also that the capable and gifted women have been with us for some time but it is only now that we are beginning to see and recognize their potential.

So, am I over top with all this "woman-talk"? Probably, but I am quite confident that more women will rise to top-political offices in the future because they are perceived  (rightly or not) to have different characteristics than their male counterparts and because they are perceived (rightly or not) to represent a different approach to the role of being a president or a PM.

I know that I have been a bit controversial (onesided) in the points presented above so feel free to flame me and differentiate my views in a comment :).