More trouble for Royal as finance chief quits
Besson storms out of meeting accusing aides of giving Socialist candidate ‘bad advice’
Socialist champion Segolene Royal’s flagging campaign for the French presidency was in fresh trouble yesterday after her party’s economics chief resigned amid a row over the cost of her election promises.
The Socialist Party’s finance secretary Eric Besson — the man in charge of costing Royal’s presidential programme — announced on Wednesday he was standing down for “personal reasons”. But party sources and several newspapers said Besson resigned in frustration at poor organisation in Royal’s campaign, which has failed to bounce back in the polls despite a keynote policy speech at the weekend.
Spiral of depression
According to Le Monde, Besson stormed out of a high-level party meeting on Wednesday morning, criticising “endless meetings with a total lack of coordination” and accusing senior Royal allies of giving her bad advice. Le Monde said Royal’s campaign had run into “serious organisational problems” and quoted one PS official as saying the party was trapped in a “spiral of depression”.
The left-wing newspaper Liberation — which has broadly supported Royal’s campaign — saw Besson’s departure as evidence “at best of tensions in Royal’s team, at worst of persistent malfunctions in the coordination of her campaign”.
Both Besson and the codirector of Royal’s campaign, Jean-Louis Bianco, insisted his departure was unrelated to disagreements over the cost of Royal’s programme. Bianco said it followed a “personal disagreement” with PS leader Francois Hollande.
But Royal’s right-wing rival Nicolas Sarkozy immediately seized upon the latest sign of division in her camp. Speaking during a visit to the French island of Reunion, Sarkozy — without referring to Royal by name — said France deserved a “coherent team”, not “a man or a woman acting alone”.