French MP Harlem Désir set to become first black man to lead a major European political party
Wednesday 12 September 2012
The French Euro MP Harlem Désir appears certain next month to become the first black man to lead a major European political party.
After weeks of wrangling, Mr Désir, 52, was today named as the official choice of the hierarchy of the French Socialist party to replace Martine Aubry as its “first secretary” or national leader. The ruling party’s annual conference, set to take place between 26 and 28 October, is expected to endorse the choice overwhelmingly, giving Mr Désir a position once held by the late President François Mitterrand, the former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and the current President, François Hollande.
Mr Désir is seen as a safe pair of hands and competent administrator rather than a man likely to emerge as Mr Hollande’s successor as a “French Obama” or the Next Big thing on the Left. His choice is, nonetheless, a significant event in a country in which racial minorities have only recently started to play leading political roles.
Born “Jean-Philippe” in Paris in 1959, with a West Indian father and a Jewish mother, Mr Désir emerged in the 1980s as a Trotskyist, student and anti-racist activist. He changed his first name to “Harlem” in homage to African-American political leaders.
Mr Désir’s nomination today by the outgoing first secretary Ms Aubry and the Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault follows weeks of in-fighting by the many clans and political tendencies of the Socialist party. His final, defeated rival was Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who was once a lieutenant of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund.
Under undemocratic rules adopted by the Socialist to avoid the vicious, internal conflicts seen in the past, there will be no leadership campaign. The 175,000 party members will vote to endorse – or not - the choice of the party leadership on 18 October and the results will be announced at the national conference in Toulouse eight days later.
Despite his rabble-rousing beginnings, Mr Désir, has long been seen as a loyal and consensual party apparatchik rather than a political thinker or potential president. Although polls suggested that he was the overwhelming choice of party members, he was today described by Socialist parliamentarians as a “leader minimo” and “first secretary default”. In a rare flash of humour, Mr Désir said of himself recently: “Whenever people talk about me, they say: ‘he was once young and handsome. Now he is serious and a pain in the arse’.”
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...
£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...
£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...