France’s First Woman President, Just One Election Away

France moved another step closer to electing its first woman president when Socialist candidate and self-declared feminist Segolene Royal became one of two final contenders in the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday. She will face off against conservative candidate Nicholas Sarkozy in the May 6 final election.

Royal won 25 percent of the vote, while Sarkozy garnered 30 percent in last weekend”s election between 12 candidates. The two have already begun competing to attract the 18 percent of voters who cast ballots for the third-place candidate, centrist Francois Bayrou, now eliminated from the race. A televised debate between Royal and Sarkozy is scheduled for May 2.

Royal has run a populist campaign with an emphasis on participatory democracy and women’s rights. “There is a strong correlation between the status of a woman and the state of justice or injustice in a country,” she said in her nomination acceptance speech, drawing cheers.

LEARN MORE Read “Battle Royal,” a profile of Segolene Royal in the current issue of Ms. magazine

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New York Times 4/23/07; Ms. Spring 2007

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