The ruling French Socialist Party held its national congress this weekend, called to define the party’s broad policy lines and to designate its leadership structures at local and national level. The three-day event, which ended on Sunday evening, also marks the third anniversary of François Hollande’s presidency. Against a backdrop of record and increasing unemployment, the party desperately needs new impetus as it faces an uphill struggle over the next two years to win back its disaffected electorate in presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2017. But while Prime Minister Manuel Valls was given a warm public display of support by party members, he offered no clear programme for the remainder of his government’s time in office during a skilfully crafted speech aimed at appeasing party divisions. Lénaïg Bredoux reports from the congress in the west-central town of Poitiers.