Ségolène Royal, a political revenant who has become irremovable

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Ségolène Royal has led an up and down political career over three decades. After serving three ministerial posts and three terms as an MP, she lost, as socialist candidate, the 2007 presidential elections to Nicolas Sarkozy, narrowly lost her 2008 bid to become Socialist Party leader, was humiliated in the 2011 socialist primaries, and lost in legislative elections in 2012. But, retaining a power base as a local council leader in mid-west France, the 63-year-old former wife of President François Hollande is now back in the stable of power. Made environment minister in 2014, her ministry emerged from this month’s government reshuffle with added powers, including her role as president of post-COP 21 UN climate talks. But she is also regarded as a key figure for Hollande’s hopes of re-election in 2017. Mathieu Magnaudeix reports.

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In the run-up to this month’s reshuffle of the French government, and referring to the planned departure of Laurent Fabius as foreign minister, Ségolène Royal spoke in private of her disinterest in taking over the Quai d’Orsay, as the riverside ministry is often called, where she would be “bored stiff by ambassadors”.