France’s first major female presidential candidate has slipped in the polls after a public dispute with her longtime partner and father of her four children. Ségolène Royal is the Socialist Party’s nominee for president; her companion, François Hollande, is the party’s chairman. When Hollande announced that the Socialists planned to raise taxes, Royal interrupted him. “That’s not how I see things,” she said. “I’m not in favor of increasing taxes.” A week later, her campaign spokesman made things worse by trying to joke about the disagreement. Asked what his candidate’s weaknesses were, the spokesman said, “Ségolène Royal has only one flaw—her companion.” Royal promptly suspended him. Since the gaffes, her poll ratings have dropped from a two-point lead over her conservative rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, to an eight-point disadvantage.
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