Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said in an interview published on Tuesday he would run for the leadership of the French Socialist Party, setting the stage for a showdown with former presidential candidate Segolene Royal.
The Socialists have been divided and rudderless since Royal was soundly beaten by Nicolas Sarkozy in May 2007 and have failed to mount an effective opposition.
Party members are due to choose a new leader in November. Royal said in May she would stand and Delanoe, seen as her most serious rival, had been under pressure to launch his own bid.
"Yes, I will put all my energy at the service of my beliefs," the mayor told the newspaper Le Monde when asked if he would run.
There has been speculation that Delanoe would like to challenge Sarkozy for the presidency in 2012, but he and other Socialist leaders say it is much too early to talk about that.
For now, the Socialists have been so engrossed in the looming leadership contest that they have failed to capitalise on Sarkozy's decline in popularity since late 2007.
Sarkozy has launched dozens of reforms but voters have yet to see their purchasing power improve -- the number one concern according to polls -- and many are disappointed with him.
But the quarrelling Socialists have been overshadowed as opponents by Oliver Besancenot, an eloquent Trotskyist postman who speaks for the Communist Revolutionary League.
The latest opinion poll on the Socialist Party leadership, published on Sunday by newspaper Le Parisien, found that Delanoe was the most popular choice but not by a landslide.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ağustos 2008, 16:39