France's socialist militants ponder party's future


Last Thursday the seven candidates in the Socialist Party's primary to choose a presidential candidate took part in the first of three televised debates. Mediapart joined a group of party members watching the first debate at Roubaix near Lille in northern France, which is historically one of the staunchest of socialist strongholds in France. As Amélie Poinssot discovered, many grassroots activists are still hopeful the party can be rebuilt despite the massive disappointment of François Hollande's presidency.

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Around ten people were gathered around the television set on Thursday, January 12th, to watch the first televised debate of the seven candidates contesting the socialist primary to choose a candidate for this year's presidential election. Though the mood at the Socialist Party's offices in Roubaix, near Lille in northern France, was not one of great impatience, party activists were nonetheless clearly curious about what they would see. “Because of [President] Hollande's [declaration] on December 1st that he would not be a candidate, and then the break for the holidays, the primary campaign will have been a lot shorter that the Right's,” says Romain. “It was time for a debate to take place.”