RoyalSomehow the hopes of a continent’s Social Democrats seem to be embodied by Segolene Royal. She gives a reason for hope that somehow a different politics is possible, that the French PS can emerge from the shadows, that the centre-left can re-assume its place as the predominant political family in Europe. There’s a hope that somehow she can replace Blair as the darling of the left, a vacuum left since the Third Way / Neue Mitte euphoria of the late 1990s.

Yet from my standpoint, Royal’s speech was disappointing, not least in terms of the way it was delivered. Royal was clearly reading throughout, and her style of delivery was rather flat.

(Just a quick aside: I’ve come across this excellent article in The Independent about Royal’s time as an au pair in Dublin – something she excludes from her autobiography. It makes interesting reading, especially about how she may have had to cope as a female politician in France.)

Then there is the issue of what was said. There were only 2 ‘policies’ that really struck me in Royal’s speech. The first was an idea that PES leaders should agree a political delcaration before each European Council, as an important political statement of intent; probably not really a major step forward.

The second suggestion was that more political control is needed over the policies of the European Central Bank. I wonder what the German SPD representatives here – brought up in the era of Bundesbank independence – would have made of that?

Last but not least, Royal was the only main speaker not to utter a single word in their non-native language, and she also made no reference to the presence of Howard Dean in the audience, something that both Poul and José had mentioned. Strategically that might be the right approach for French politics, yet in the context of this Congress it feels a little out of place.

Royal and José

Royal at podium

Royal and stand

Photos © Jon Worth. Please send me an e-mail if you want to use one of these, or want a higher resolution version.


  1. It’s not that complicated to do… There are a few simple rules that can be followed, and a few short coaching sessions could improve matters a lot. Royal is clearly a confident person – she could become an adequate speech maker without too much problem.

  2. precisely, the problem of Segolene’s speech was her way of speaking that didnt encourage people to give big applauses.. even though content wise she was quite strong at some points… obviously she needs a coach on public speaking.
    Apparently Socrates had the same problems and now he perfectly knows how to motivate the audience hysteria 🙂

  3. On the ECOSY point: I think that was more a matter of bad planning than anything else. I’m not sure that Rasmussen knew which people he was inviting on to the platform!

    Regarding Royal – her speech was not designed well in order to draw applause from the audience. It did not include those high points, those pauses, that José used so well. It’s not a matter of how the audience behaved towards Royal; it’s more a problem with her means of delivery.

  4. Ciao Jon!

    I’m also in Porto:) following the Congress and was equally unimpressed by the performance of Segolene. Ok, she is quite in a difficult position, just got the nomination after a very weak European performance and with a long campaign to go. It’s obvious she cannot cross some lines as of yet.

    But moving to the atmosphere in the room when she was delivering the speech. The people did not follow her with the same mood as Socrates just before her. The pauses in his speech were loudly applauded, while with her there was no similar reaction. She was quite mild and did not get the attention of the audience too well, I would say. Equally the final standing ovation seemed to be a bit forced…

    For the policies. It was clear she decided to go for a vague way. I haven’t followed her campaigning in France that close, but from what I heard this is her. So, for once we have a politician that is weak on policies, but might be good in delivery:)

    On the side. The PES also launched a campaign “Put children first” aimed at better childcare. Rasmussen invited Segolene, Wallstrom and others to sign, but forgot to invite the president of ECOSY, the young Socialists. A coincidence?

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