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Royal's ex-aide hands her a fresh setback

Segolene Royal, buoyed by an assured television performance that revived prospects for her presidential bid, received a setback yesterday when a former aide quit her socialist party, condemning her campaign as weak.

Gulf News

Paris: Segolene Royal, buoyed by an assured television performance that revived prospects for her presidential bid, received a setback yesterday when a former aide quit her socialist party, condemning her campaign as weak.

Eric Besson, former national secretary on the economy in the Socialist party, made his gesture just as a survey showed Royal fighting back against her main rival Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-right frontrunner.

Besson resigned from his party post last week in a row over the financing of Royal's policy plans. But he said yesterday he would also leave the Socialist party.

"For the past three months, I have been seeing that the campaign is badly oriented, badly organised and going badly," Besson told Europe 1 radio.

Royal's team responded to widespread criticism of her spending plans with a detailed breakdown of the 35 billion euro ($45.98 billion; Dh169 billion) project. Over 10 billion euros will be spent on research and universities and 4.5 billion euros on job measures.

Royal's campaign to become France's first woman president has been weakened by gaffes and policy rows, but her poised performance on a primetime TV debate on Monday produced the first signs of revival.

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